People often tell me how lucky I am that I have a hat head so that I look good in hats. I’m not sure what’s lucky about that — I would wear them anyway. My hats were never a fashion statement. I’ve always worn hats outside, for warmth in the winter and for coolness in the summer. That the hats became anything more, turning me into a woman people refer to as “Pat in the Hat,” was sheer happenstance.
My sister is very creative, and the bows she puts on gifts are works of art. I never knew what to do with them except to reuse for my own gift-giving, so I always carefully packed them away. One day, I’d dropped my hat on the table by one of her ribbon and bow creations I’d removed from a gift, and just for fun, I slipped the bow around the crown of the hat. I probably never would have given decorating hats another thought, except that after a few days, the ribbon disappeared. It had been a windy day, and my surmise is that the bow had blown off. I retraced my steps again and again, and I never did find it. This was shortly after Jeff died, when any loss, even the loss of a ribbon threw me back into full grief mode.
I eventually used another ribbon for the hat, more to make myself feel better (at least there was one thing I could replace!). Then, when that hat wore out, I went shopping for others. The irony is that if anything makes me look good in hats it’s that I have a relatively small head, so the hat more or less balances things out, but most hats are way too big for me. So I got in the habit of collecting the hats as well as ribbons and bows, so that I would always have a hat to wear.
Over the years, it’s become an identifying factor, but the truth is, everyone looks good in hats. It’s just a matter of finding the right style to fit one’s head and frame one’s face. In fact, most church-going women of a certain age have an assortment of hats to wear to church, and as far as I know, no one ever went up to one of these women and said, “Oh, my. You look terrible in hats!” Because they didn’t look terrible. They looked dressed up.
The real issue seems to be “hat head” of a different sort, so called because when one removes a hat, one’s hair is mashed down, making it very obvious that one had been wearing a hat.
I’ve never really cared. I walk so much (or used to until the knee issues showed up) so it was always more important for me to be comfortable.
Being known as “Pat in the Hat” has its advantages. It’s easy for people to remember my name, and if anyone has a nice hat they want to get rid of, they know exactly who to give it to. And, of course, hats are a good conversation opener. Everyone notices my hats.
So maybe it’s not so much that I’m lucky to have a hat head, but that I don’t mind having hat head after I remove the hat.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator
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