December 11, 2009

Dressing Alike

My mother and I have been dressing alike since I was a little girl. Mother’s Day 1963 found us in matching pink and yellow Jackie Kennedy-esque sleeveless sheaths that my grandmother made. (Not sure why she didn’t make one for herself, guess it was enough for her daughter and granddaughter to look like dorks.)

I started to rebel about 1973. Or maybe it was Mom who refused to wear a military-style jacket, hip hugging bell bottoms, and a dirty Three Dog Night T-shirt. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

About ten years ago, I decided to get back with the program. Actually, I wanted to enlist the entire family in my sick little game, and they were having none of it. Before Christmas Eve, Santa came to our house (via Rural King) and brought all eight members of my side of the family red, long underwear style, footie pajamas. I know it was Santa because I still believe.

Everyone grumbled about putting on the jammies, but I cannot remember a Christmas when we laughed as much. My mother – who did not yet have dementia – was somewhat fussy about her appearance and was the last to agree to put on the red outfit. All seven of us waited for her around the Christmas tree in the basement. She came down the stairs with her shy, reticent way and we all just laughed with her. I savor the memory.

Today I bought matching flannel pajamas with penguins on them for the two of us, as I have been doing since the Red Footie Jammie Incident. Kind of fun, and something we share.

Last year my parents visited in the winter and Dad brought Mom’s latest pair of winter jammies, blue flannel with owls, moons, and stars on them. Of course, I have an identical pair.

Mom was by then well into dementia, but still able to dress herself if Dad put out her clothes. She said she was going to bed and soon came out in her pajamas. We all looked at each other funny, something was wrong. This petite, five foot something, seventy-six year old had on owl, moon, and star blue flannel pajamas, but the pants were about eight inches too long, and the top hung loosely on her with the neck opening halfway down her belly. She didn’t get it and neither did we.

Finally, one of us realized what had happened. Mom had put my pajamas on. Again, we laughed, but not at her, with her. Sometimes you just have to “go with it.”

My mother is about five foot two and I’m five foot nine. She wears a medium and I wear an extra large. Imagine what her pajamas would look like on me. Merry Christmas, hope your jammies keep you toasty warm. Quoth the raven.