The Experiences of being a Hat Lady
"The Hat Ladies of Charleston arrived with smiles, hats, and mirrors. But most importantly, they rekindled lost memories of romantic days of feminine gentility. The ladies of the home prepared for this visit for ten days by decorating their hats; some had to try on their hats after placing each flower--proof that vanity lives forever.
Their coming also touched our male residents. One gentleman practiced "Easter Parade" for a week in his room. He then allowed us to move his organ from his bedroom to the dining room. He played (with his hat on) for thirty minutes before The Hat Ladies arrived. Significantly he is one who usually stays to himself in his room.
Their presence encouraged some residents to dance and sing. They stimulated conversation amongst residents who once lived in New York and witnessed the original Easter Parade. The next day brought more reminiscing. The organist said how much fun he had; another gentleman made an announcement about the lovely day they all had. One of the ladies showed off the hat graciously given to her by one of The Hat Ladies.
And now onto The Promenade. I had fallen in love with my hat for the occasion, but I had no idea how good it would make me feel. I have very little time for myself, caring for an ailing Mother (who lives a good distance away), raising three children, and meeting the demands at work..
And so, on Saturday morning, I reached for a dress that would fit the hat and be comfortable. I put on my walking shoes, opted against coffee, and drove off. I parked my car. Within 200 yards I ran into my first set of tourists. They had read about The Promenade that morning in the paper. The next notable tourists I met were a Mother and daughter from two different cities, who decided to meet in Charleston because they read about The Promenade over the internet. They even took my picture. My self-esteem skyrocketed.
Still feeling good, I decided to call my Aunt on Easter Sunday to ask her to send me my Grandmother's old hats--if she could find them. She was thrilled. That particular side of the family and I have been distant both emotionally and geographically. Hats provided the bridge to place the call.
The lives touched by a simple hat placed simply upon a not-so-simple head is simply marvelous!
I have been a member of The Hat Ladies for two years and am approaching movie ticket senior status. This story, however, is about my 83 year old Mother who recently became caught up in hats and the results have been nothing short of miraculous.
Mom has spent the past 4 years in severe pain because of undiagnosed kidney stones. As you may image, her life was void of all fun and joy. This past year a new doctor solved her health problem and she is again her energetic self, resuming an aerobic class, working with the 'Flying Tigers,' and working with the house tours of the Charleston Garden Club. The years of pain have taken a toll, however. She has lost her confidence. Her memory flickers.
One day not long ago she went to a luncheon and Archie was arriving to speak about the Hat Ladies of Charleston. Archie placed a brown cloche hat on Mom's head. That night and all the next day Mom could not stop talking about the hat: reminiscent of Frostie's magic hat. 'Everyone told me how pretty I was; I felt so special.'
I followed up and phoned Archie about 'the hat,' trying to locate another I could buy for Mom, as she was so taken with this one. Long story short, I bought Archie's hat off her head! I presented it to Mom for Valentine's Day. You should have seen her in the kitchen with nightgown and robe and hat: 'Look how pretty I am.' She has worn it out with her friends, and chatters how everyone told her how beautiful she was.
This hat has brought joy to her life. She is now enthusiastically looking to add hats to her wardrobe. She is focusing on outfits to go with hats, wearing hats to activities. This as brought a new dimension of confidence and joy to an otherwise routine life.
Hats do make a difference. (Carol McGill, noted artist)
What It Means