The Hat Stand
A Family Heirloom
Jenny was reading the daily newspaper over breakfast, when suddenly from over the top of her glasses, she looked quizzically at the old mahogany hat stand; situated by the front door in the hallway.
Gathering her thoughts, she remembered happy times when the hat stand stood proudly caressing hats and coats of various sizes and colours. There would have been her mum's favourite anorak, her black woollen scarf and not to mention David's collection of motor bike leathers. Sadly now, scratched and faded, the wonderful effect of the French polish no longer shining, the hat stand only played a gracious host to her dad's brown and grey checked trilby hat.
Jenny gave a little wry smile to herself, as she sucked the stem of her horn rimmed glasses, twiddling them around on her little finger.
"Ah dad we had some fun with that hat, didn't we?" The wry smile now breaking into infectious laughter.
"Do you remember the day at the game fair, when you picked up the feather from the pheasant cock that had run startlingly in front of us, or the day I won that badge for writing the best short story at Secondary School? Or the day David bought you the birthday card with a Best Dad badge on the front, and you pinned it to the side of your hat." Jenny now more sombre, lifted a tissue from the box of tissues on the hall table, and blew her nose.
She ran her fingers lovingly over the stem of the hat stand, down the feet, eventually stopping to run her finger around the rim of Dad's hat. Picking up the hat, holding it with both hands, she pressed it to her face and sniffed. Lightly at first and then with a really deep intake of breath, finding comfort in the smell of her father which remained on the inside rim of his hat.
She muse to herself how such an inane object as a hat stand could capture so many memories. After all it didn't breath and it wasn't alive. But whatever the reason this morning, it had brought Jenny to stand at it's side.
The light from the stained glass window in the front door, danced a ribbon of colour around the hat stand, and from her minds eye, Jenny could recall the sight of her mother and father dancing in the moonlight. They had been such a close couple, so much in love even after thirty five years.
She reflected on her past and what a brilliant childhood she had had. Memories of David and herself flooded her mind. Beautiful days spent picnicking in the park, mum always there to bath a grazed knee, dad, a big kid at heart, was pushing her on the swing. Happy family holidays and fantastic days spent on the beach. A single tear tumbled from her eye lash, and she quickly wiped it away with the back of her hand. All those days where all gone now.
Looking skywards, Jenny asked, "Why was mum taken away so soon?" they were such a happy family. Never a cross word passed between mum and dad's lips, they worshipped each other. Five years ago the cancer struck her vibrant, beautiful mother down. But through pain and suffering her mother never complained, she just wanted to spend the time she had left, loving her family.
Oh they carried on, Dad, David and her. They managed to support each other in a way that all loving families do. Dad never got over his wife's death, but living with Jenny, reminding him every day of her mum, he coped.
Tomorrow was the anniversary of her mother's death and Jenny had promised her dad that she would buy the largest bouquet of red roses that she could carry to her mother's grave. Jenny was grateful for the strong shoulder that her brother David would offer, just like all the past five years. He had married two years ago and had just celebrated the birth of his first little boy, Damien. Damien was one of his mother's favourite names, and he considered it a fitting tribute to his mother's memory to name his first son Damien. Jenny opened the front door as she heard David's car pull into the drive way.
She walked quietly into the driveway to welcome home her younger brother with a reassuring hug, when she heard her dad call from the living room.
"Coming dad," Jenny lifted one of David's suitcases into the hallway.
"Yes Dad, David is here, didn't he say he wouldn't let you down?"
David followed his sister into the living room and bent to kiss his father's forehead. He noticed how well his dad was looking. He believed he could see that old familiar twinkle in his dad's eyes, and he smiled taking old of his father's hand.
"Dad, the plan for tomorrow is to go to the cemetery early and leave the red roses on mum's grave," he said," and then we will catch our flight to Switzerland after lunch. We should reach our destination about 10pm and will meet with Gloria first thing the following morning."
Tearfully his father nodded. Jenny rubbed her father's shoulders with tenderness,
"Are you sure this is what you want to do dad?" she asked
"Quite sure darling, I am lucky to have the choice and the support of my family. This is what I want to do?"
"And what about the hat dad?" Jenny played with the pheasant feather sticking precariously out from the front of the hat band.
"Oh yes, the hat", her father took his hat from Jenny's hands and pulled it into shape before placing it on his head. "We can't leave the hat, that has to go every where that I go." He gave his daughter a warm smile.
Jenny hugged her dad, "You are so brave dad." she said.
"No darling, not I. Your mother was the brave one, she fought her cancer, I can not do that. Assisted suicide is what I have chosen. I am taking the easy way out."!
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