Lessons From Grandma’s Fur Coat

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.


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I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at www.livingtheseasons.com.

26 Comments Leave a comment

    • Thanks Renee. I do wear it without apology, although anyone touching it can tell immediately that it’s not a new coat. They haven’t made them that heavy for years. I’m glad my aunt convinced me to take it.

    • They really were. Grandma was the last one to go and it was the end of an era. All of us grandkids have been influenced by her in some way (well, many ways).

  1. My grandma on my father’s side died without enjoying her money. If only then there was the internet so she can learn from others. It was one of her evil daughters who took all her money and fled the country. She sold every bit of her memory including our ancestral home. Your grandparents serves as a role model both in giving, loving and enjoying life. It’s better late than not enjoying life at all. Beautiful and moving story.

    • Thanks for the kind words. Yes, my grandparents were a great role model for many things. When Grandma died, a lot of people stood up to share a favorite memory of her. The funeral ended up becoming a party and I think she would have loved it. So sorry to hear about your aunt, but unfortunately that happens more frequently than you would think. People are really weird when money is involved.

  2. I remember when my dad was able to buy one for my mom. How proud he was to give her this extravagant gift. She will still wear it on occasion if it is cold enough. Not sure what will become of it – too many grandgirls in the fam. So happy you have your coat and those memories – stay warm! K

    • Thanks for the lovely story – that is so neat. I bet your Dad was proud as could be each time your Mom wore that coat. I know my Grandfather was.

  3. My grandmas never wore mink, but an aunt bought a white rabbit fur coat that was passed through the girls in the family. (My cousins and me). I felt like a queen in that soft coat. Maybe that’s why I still love snuggly bunnies so much.

    • Rabbit coats weren’t very expensive but they felt so wonderful! The fur is even softer than mink. Are you sure about loving the snuggly bunnies so much? It seems to me that the squirrels are more what you’re up to ha ha ha!


    • Hmm. . . I have to think about that. Neither Grandma or Grandpa were huggers. Grandpa taught me a lot of life lessons though and he shared a lot of his life as a younger man with us grandkids. Grandma was such a great person, even if she never hugged us. It was bad when my great-aunt died, but then when Grandma died, so did that generation. It was the end of an era. I miss her and my great-aunt so much and it’s been a while now. I’m meandering. Thanks for the comment – it sure got me thinking about all of them though and that’s wonderful! And the coat makes all three of them there with me for a few minutes.

  4. What a beautiful post :). I remember by grandma in her fur coat too – she was great to cuddle up to, but it was even better when she had her fur coat on. There has to be a balance in life. Yes, you need to be responsible with your money, but life is short so it’s important to enjoy it. If that means blowing some money now and again, I say go for it!! :)

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post! My husband and I have blown some money on our weekend trips and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s all good to work hard and save, but it’s wonderful to enjoy the fruits of our labor too. Thanks for the encouragement!

  5. What a wonderful momento of your grandmother. MIne had a fur coat too. She looked like a warm friendly bear when she wore it and I loved to hug her in it. I’m not sure where it went but she had 5 daughters.

    • If my aunt was a larger woman, she probably would have taken it. Grandma wasn’t much of a hugger, but I sure did stroke that coat every chance I could. I still do now!

    • You’re right that it was bought for all the right reasons. It took a while though for my teenage self to figure that out (actually, I was married a while before I figured it out).

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