Gold Coat of Memories

Posted on | May 13, 2012 | 22 Comments |

When I was a young girl – and when I was a teenager – every winter my mother would put on her big golden coat before heading out the door to work. It was a glorious coat, in a rich colour that evoked the summer sun. Woolen on the outside, satin-lined on the inside, double-breasted and with pockets big enough for gloves, it had a collar you could put up to keep your neck warm, and a belt for extra tightness. It didn’t skimp on length, either – on my mother, who was just five foot five, it reached nearly to her ankles.

I coveted that coat. I told her I expected to have it when she died, thank you very much. I laughed as I said it. She said I’d have to pry it from her cold dead hands – and laughed as she said it.  We both had that sort of humour.

I  got that coat a good few decades sooner than I expected to. Because my mum killed herself thirteen years ago today.

So yes. The last thirteen years have had their challenges. A lot of soul-searching. A lot of questioning – it was about the most unexpected thing ever, and it was devastating to all of us in different ways.

She left me all her clothes and jewellery, all her books. Her coat I don’t wear often any more – I’m not as slim as my mother was – but I woke up this morning with a desire to put it on, and make something positive for myself out of a day that leaves me so damned sad, every year.

I always believed my mother was beautiful. I share her curly pubic hair, her double back rolls, her droopy breasts (but not her aureole), her bottom. I have her shoulders, her large upper arms and her thighs (but not her knees). I have her chin and her crows feet and her red cheeks.  I smile much more easily than she ever did, though.

She was beautiful, but she didn’t love herself.

She was beautiful, but she wasn’t strong.

Because she is gone, I have learned to be beautiful, strong, and to love who I am.

It’s a hard lesson, but there you go.

And because I wasn’t smiling much today – this was me wearing her coat the night of the day I graduated, when I was twenty-two years old. Less than one year after she was gone.  My brother took this photograph.


Click-throughs on the main two pics.

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22 Responses to “Gold Coat of Memories”

  1. Rox and Steve
    May 14th, 2012 @ 12:14 am

    Stunning photos and very emotional story. Thank you for posting this

  2. KaziGrrl
    May 14th, 2012 @ 12:26 am

    Wow, Dee, so sorry for your loss *hugs*
    We get so much from our mothers… the DNA of course, and many of our attitudes toward life. My mum has always been my yardstick too in comparison for how we’ve dealt with life.

    ~Kazi xxx

  3. Mrs JoJo
    May 14th, 2012 @ 2:32 am

    brilliant photos and heart touching x

  4. Penny
    May 14th, 2012 @ 5:31 am

    wow Dee, what brave and moving words and photos… thanks for sharing this with us

  5. Jilly
    May 14th, 2012 @ 5:43 am

    *big squidgy hugs* You are gorgeous, brave and absolutely one of my biggest heroes. You do your mother proud.


  6. Jack and Jill
    May 14th, 2012 @ 5:53 am

    Thank you for sharing something so intensely personal. We feel deeply for your loss, and we can only imagine that thirteen years later it’s still difficult to process. Your pictures are stunning as always, but we’ll certainly never forget your words this week.

  7. Cara Sutra
    May 14th, 2012 @ 7:09 am

    A really emotional story. ~hugs~ you may not be smiling in the first couple, but I love the way you have your chin up and out to the world on he second pic. Also love that you love yourself and have confidence, too many don’t. xxx

  8. Molly
    May 14th, 2012 @ 7:52 am

    Maybe her greatest gift to you wasn’t the coat but the feisty nature that although maybe you didn’t share with her but you have certainly discovered within yourself anyway.


  9. Rebel
    May 14th, 2012 @ 8:02 am

    I felt the tears sting my eyes when I read this and saw the photos, the sad and almost angry look on your face, but your chin pushed forward, determined to be strong, to make this day into something special for yourself.
    Thanks for sharing something so personal about yourself, Dee!
    Sending you lots of hugs and love. You are a beautiful person!
    Rebel xox

  10. Vincent Vega
    May 14th, 2012 @ 8:17 am

    What a rough and beautiful story all at once. So sorry for your loss, even if it was so many years ago now. Thank you for having the courage to share that.

  11. Mistress Mia
    May 14th, 2012 @ 11:01 am

    The pain of loss affects us all in such different and sometimes amazing ways.

    Your post is strong but at the same time vunerable, knowing that life can be taken away so swiftly and devastatingly.

    I love your strength and resolve to be positive and to take power from this tragic loss.

    Oh yes and you absolutely rock that coat!!

    Small or not it looks fantastic on you!!!

    Love and hugs

    ~Mia~ xx

  12. Dumb Domme
    May 14th, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

    Beautiful writing, beautiful photos, painfully beautiful memories.

    Thank you, Dee.

  13. Kiwiana
    May 14th, 2012 @ 10:11 pm

    I love your Spirit Dee. To choose this most specially memoried piece of clothing to turn around your mum’s saddest anniversary is a really awesome achievement. It’s like reclaiming land.

    You’re gorgeous in Citrus. You’re gorgeous in and out. It shows here.

    xo K

  14. Newt Kai
    May 15th, 2012 @ 3:52 am

    I have a shirt. A Man’s XL shirt. Its so old now the cuffs r frayed. The material is thin from washing. I feel my most beautiful in this shirt. It is a badge I think. I love that you took these photos. They are as beautiful as the one of you smiling. Because you leaned into the pain like a willow & did not snap. That is a beautiful woman there.

  15. Carol Anne Caiafa
    May 15th, 2012 @ 10:52 am

    I’m sorry for your loss – and the coat, and you, are beautiful. <3

  16. Phoenix
    May 15th, 2012 @ 10:05 pm

    Big hugs – I have my mums shirt I wear

  17. Dee
    May 17th, 2012 @ 11:40 am

    Rox and Steve – Thank you for commenting! It means a lot to me.

    Kazi – I’ve learned to change some of the attitudes that I shared with my mum (otherwise I ran the same risk of perfectionisting myself into suicide as well), but much of who I am, originally, is down to her. Which is a gift.

    Mrs JoJo – Thank you.

    Penny – Even if it makes a difference to no one else, it makes a difference to me!

    Jilly – Yay for hugs :)

    Jack and Jill – It’s certainly easier as time goes on… but it never goes away entirely. There are unanswered questions that can never be answered, and all one can do is figure it out the best you can.

    Cara Sutra – Given a choice between giving up and chugging on, I’ll keep on chugging :)

    Molly – Feisty. I like that. Never a word used to describe her, so that’s definitely all mine!

    Rebel – *hugs lots*

    Vincent – Thank you, hon.

    Mia – It is a totally epic coat! I wonder where on earth she got it from?

    Dumb Domme – It’s helped carve me into who I am, which I appreciate. But I sure as hell wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone…

    Kiwiana – You say the loveliest things, my dear. *kisses*

    Newt – I am glad you have a shirt, as I have a coat. Things like that help connect us to our memories.

    Carol Anne – Thank you, hon.

    Phoenix – I am glad you have your mums shirt still! Things like that can help keep us connected. I don’t wear the coat often at all, now, but every time I put on a pair of her earrings, I smile :)

    xx Dee

  18. Dangerous Lilly
    May 18th, 2012 @ 9:26 am

    Oh my, I love that last pic of a Young Dee.
    *Sigh* I’m sorry love. It’s hard for me to believe that it’ll be 15 years this August since my dad died suddenly. While I don’t have the questions you do, I still sort of do….nobody told me how bad his health was. I didn’t know he had a time limit if he didn’t shape up. I didn’t see the warning signs (him transferring his work life insurance to me instead of my mom; him telling me where my important papers were) but I KNOW….I know….he knew he was dying. He knew. So why didn’t he tell me, why didn’t he clue me in?

    Thank you for sharing and letting it out.

  19. Yes, THAT Tonya
    May 21st, 2012 @ 5:04 am

    *hugs* I lost my mother 9 years ago this February. I don’t have anything of hers to wear anymore except her face. I see it every time I look in the mirror.

  20. Dee
    May 25th, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

    Lilly – *hugs lots* I am so sorry your Dad didn’t share that with you. He may have thought he had a good reason for it, but regardless, it still can hurt.

    Tonya – I am glad you have that to see, though. *hugs*

    xx Dee

  21. Mia Wallace
    May 28th, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

    This story touches my heart. I lost my mom less than a year ago, but not for the same reasons. Regardless, it’s not easy being without a mom. I feel your pain. Know I’m sending a virtual, shared motherless daughter hug to you.

  22. Dee
    May 28th, 2012 @ 11:48 pm

    Mia – Oh hon, I am so sorry your mom is gone. It is hard, not having her around any more! *big big hugs back*

    xx Dee


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