Lessons From Grandma’s Fur Coat

By

Winter has settled in here in central Virginia and it’s finally gotten cold enough to wear Grandma’s fur coat.  A fat girl in a fur coat looks even fatter yet, but I was the grandchild who fit best into her lovely mink coat.

My favorite boy toy and I were dating when my grandfather bought it for her.  In that generation, it was how men showed the world that they were wealthy and their women were provided for.  Neither grandparent was overly materialistic, but my grandfather was a proud man and he wanted the world to know he had overcome the poverty of his early years to afford this.  My aunt had to convince me to take it after Grandma’s death and I’m glad I did.  It doesn’t get cold here very often to wear it, but it is gorgeous.

I was appalled when Grandpa bought this coat and while I had no idea what it cost, I knew it cost a lot.  Uncharitably, I thought how that money could have helped so many other causes.  And that was wrong.  My grandparents were generous people for their entire lives, even when they had little.  They supported family members back in Europe, gave to their church, and helped out many who were in need, including their neighbor next door, who eventually became my other grandmother.  There was nothing wrong with my grandmother enjoying a luxury like this.

A rare lunch with Grandma and Grandpa (in front); my great-aunt is in back, between my parents; my sister is over to the right.

A rare lunch with Grandma and Grandpa (in front);
my great-aunt (Grandma’s sister) is in back, between my parents;
my sister is over to the right.

 

And here’s the lesson.  I learned there was nothing wrong with having nice things in life when the other obligations have been satisfied.  My grandparents waited many years to enjoy their money.  I’d like to say I’m glad they did while they were healthy enough to do so, but unfortunately that’s not true.  By the time they started enjoying their money, Grandpa started his second round of cancer and this time it eventually killed him.  They got in a few nice vacations (besides going back to Europe to see family), but there weren’t many before it was too late.

I don’t apologize for wearing Grandma’s coat.  I’m proud of it.  It keeps me warm on those bitter cold nights, as do my memories of her.