Dad’s Music Hat
My Dad has a black, velvet, cowboy hat. He reserves it for special occasions; specifically, he only wears it when playing the fiddle before an audience.
When I was a child, I tagged along to many of Dad’s performances at weddings, anniversaries, and fundraisers. While Dad entertained onstage alongside his music buddies, I whirled around the dance floor with my sister and my mom.
Other times, when he played at a church or in homes for the elderly, I would observe quietly. I felt proud that my father would share his time and talent with others.
A quarter of a century later, the legendary trio – Dad, his fiddle, and his hat – are still touring around.
My dad’s indispensable cowboy hat has become a symbol to me, not only of music, but of the gift of service. He wears other hats, too, interchanging them according to the situation at hand; so does my mom, for that matter.
Mom’s Simultaneous Hats
Many years ago, on a sunny fall morning, my two-year-old son and I drove to my parents’ country property for an all-day visit.
When it was nearing suppertime, the three of us – Mom, my toddler, and I – ventured down a treed path that led to the backyard garden. Upon reaching the corn patch, my mom patiently began to teach my son how to identify which ears of corn were ripe for picking.
Next, she showed him how to shuck the corn. He worked hard, pulling thick, silky fibres away from the yellow kernels. While he shucked, he chatted and asked Mom many questions. Soon, we were marching back to the house with a bowl full of corn to boil for supper and hearts full of memories to keep.
It was a good day – a day when my mother played many roles simultaneously: she was mother, mentor, grandma, teacher, gardener, wife, and friend. That’s a lot of hats.
51 Years of Hats
Mom and Dad have been married for fifty-one years, this July:
They’ve raised seven children, nurtured eighteen grandchildren, and are awaiting the arrival of their second great-grandchild.
This is their family.
My parents are also active in the lives of aging relatives and friends, especially by offering companionship and practical care to those of them who aren’t well.
This, too, is their family.
It’s a juggling act, this living in two distinct yet interwoven family worlds; it is tiring but rewarding.
A Typical Hat-Swapping Day
A typical day for my parents looks a lot like this:
- After breakfast, Mom travels to a nearby town to visit a relative with dementia. Before she enters the Home for the Aged, she puts on her care-giver and companion hats.
- After her visit, she pops a community-servant hat atop her grey hair and drives two blocks to the local school, where she volunteers by teaching students to read.
- Meanwhile, Dad dons his Taxi cap. He’s on his way to pick up another aging relative who needs a ride to a specialist appointment seventy kilometres away. This outing will take up most of Dad’s day.
- When Mom arrives home later that afternoon, she makes several phone calls during which several hats are put to use: sister, mother, grandma, secretary, and power-of-attorney.
- Next, she puts on her wife hat and makes supper.
- Just as Mom is setting the table, Dad returns from his all-day excursion. He’s tired. Today, he has been a brother, chauffeur, care-giver, and advisor.
- As he unties his shoes in the entrance, the phone rings. It’s his daughter. She has a question about an article she’s writing and needs his expert opinion. Quickly, Dad slaps on two more hats: father and consultant.
- After the phone call, Mom and Dad finally take their seats at the dining table. They are husband and wife, friends, and confidantes as they talk about their day. They discuss plans to visit friends who are struggling with health issues, and then finalize a list of tasks to complete before they leave on a weekend date – just the two of them – to a lakeside town a few hours away. After supper, Dad snoozes on the loveseat; Mom curls into the couch with a Sodoku puzzle.
- Not thirty minutes later, the phone rings. Again. It’s the police. Dad is needed at work where he will wear yet another hat before the day is done: Jail guard.
- Mom will miss him during this night-shift, but not too much: she’s quite sleepy from a late night of babysitting grandchildren the day before, and she has already made plans to put on her figurative sleeping cap and hit the hay by nine o’clock.
Hats Off to You!
To Mom and Dad (and to all of you who live in the golden land of many hats) I say,
“I admire you.
You are models of love in action.
You are vibrant and needed, and all those who know you are richer for the privilege of sharing their lives with you.”
Hats off to you!
Take a few minutes to be thankful for how your parents and grandparents pour their energy into your life. How many hats do you think they’re wearing today?
P.S. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. 🙂
Sara Jane Kehler