Hat Head

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.

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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

If People Lived Like Me

I went to the store today, not because I really needed anything, but because I had to drive my car. I did get a few essentials at the store, as well as a few non-essential (but healthy, or rather healthier) snacks, such as dried apricots and coconut chips.

The most difficult part about going shopping nowadays is to figure out what hat goes with a white surgical mask. I finally decided that a simple straw fedora with a black edging around the brim wouldn’t look too silly. I’m sure it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t wear a mask — none of the store employees would say anything, particularly since the check-out clerks are the only ones who wear them. And since a mask is for their protection, not mine — and since I know for a fact I don’t have The Bob (it’s impossible to catch something when you’re not around people) — it’s sort of silly, but then, wearing it for ten minutes a week isn’t going to kill me.

A friend stopped by last night with a gift of beets and he wore a mask, but by the time I opened the door barefaced, it was too late for me to run to get a mask. (Which, now that I think of it, came from him in the first place.)

Other than donning a mask for my infrequent forays out of my hermitage, my life really hasn’t changed much during the past couple of months, and I doubt it will change when everything is open again. I never did buy much more than essentials, anyway. Hardly ever went to a restaurant. Never went to a bar. Seldom went to any sort of gathering. Probably the only thing I’d do different is have someone over for tea.

I used to think the world would be a vastly different place if people lived like me, and now that they are (except for driving newer cars), it doesn’t seem any different. But then, it’s hard to know if things are different since I am among people so seldom.

I have liked driving to the local stores, though, rather than walking or going to a bigger store in a bigger town. (I take a short drive out into the country first because I don’t think it’s good to drive less than a mile, particularly since I only go out every five or six days.) Every time I drive around here, I get to have a conversation about my car, which is nice. And it’s good, I think, for people to associate me with the bug in case of roadside emergencies or some such.

So that was my day. How was yours?

PS: If you have a good recipe for fresh beets, let me know. Thank you!

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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.