It was time to tackle the closet in the front hall. My mother’s many coats, collected over a lifetime, hung in the closet appearing lonely and neglected. If they could talk these coats would say that they were sad and confused.
But there was one coat that stood out, Momma’s fur vest. It was a reversible leather and fur vest and was the perfect length and weight. This was my mother’s dream coat.
I remember when mother called me one morning to share the news, “I got a surprise today; a reversible fur and leather vest. It is just what I have always wanted.” I was excited for her. “How does it look?” I asked Momma. “It is dark leather with a collar and it zips up the front.” She said proudly. “Tell me about the fur. What kind is it?” I asked.
“Well, huh, I do not know. It looks kind-a mangey. It has some fur missing and, well, it is just different,” she said. “What kind of fur is it?” I repeated. “Let me look,” my Mother said. There was a gasp and word I cannot repeat. The next sentence will live on forever……”IT’S POSSUM!” my mother shouted.
When another line that will live on, “Oh, wait. This is good possum. It is from New Zealand.”
All I could think was does my mother actually believe that New Zealand possums are superior to other possums?
That New Zealand possums don’t play dead or live in trashcans or eat trash? That they don’t become squished “buzzard bait” from trying to cross the road?
Momma always wore that vest with the fur side in and the leather side out. She declared that she was proud of her possum but still never wore the fur on the outside.
Several weeks later, I invited my mother to one of my speaking engagement in Myrtle Beach. We packed all of our belongings and the possum coat made the trip with us. For the first time, she wore the fur on the outside.
One of our favorite restaurants was on the way so we stopped for dinner. As always, it was full of people waiting in line for a table. I parked across the road and left my mother in the car. The hostess told me that they had a table for two and were ready for us. I walked outside and told my mother to come in.
There stood my mother on the other side of the road, wearing her possum fur for the first time. It was a moment.
As she began walking across the road, I could only think of one word, “RUN!”