My membership in the Red Hat Society was short but sweet. I never thought much about it except, like the lady in the commercial says, “That’s for some old person, not me!” Then I discovered that Red Hat ladies may have some years under their belts, but they’re definitely not old.
During our six years in Florida, we lived in a subdivision that offered lots of amenities including some very nice walking paths. David and I were more active then, and since we both worked at home, we needed an excuse to get out of the house every day. We got up early and, after a quick breakfast and a perfunctory scan of the newspaper, we went for a walk. It was not only good exercise, but it was also a great way to meet our neighbors. We met Bill and Mary and became great friends with them, and I got invited to join a ladies’ Bible study group. We also met two Red Hat ladies. I can still picture their faces, but I can’t remember their names, which probably means that I’m closer to that “old person” in the commercial than I care to admit. For the purpose of this story, I’ll call them Jean and Diana.
Jean and Diana were definitely not old. They were lively and friendly, always ready with a smile and a wave. They lived in the other end of the subdivision, so some mornings we exchanged greetings as we passed in opposite directions, but sometimes we caught them as they headed back home, and we walked together for a while. We exchanged pleasantries about the weather and our respective families, and they always asked about Mom and Dad. Everybody knew Mom and Dad, because they saw me walking with them down to the corner and back on those days when I could get them off the couch. We also talked about community activities, and they told me about the Red Hat group that met in our clubhouse once a month.
I was surprised to find out that Jean was a member. She didn’t look old enough. But I found out that younger women can join the group, but they wear pink hats until they reach the age of 50. I also found out that the ladies not only had fun together but they also did a lot of charity work. The more I heard, the more interested I became. When they invited me to come to a meeting, I thought sure, why not.
“Bring you Mom, too. She’d love it, and everyone would love her.”
“Okay, we’ll come. I guess I need to go hat shopping.”
“Don’t worry about that,” said Diana. “I have lots. I’ll bring a couple of extras to the meeting. You can get your own if you decide to join.”
The next meeting was the Thanksgiving lunch. It was a wonderful meal, and the ladies collected a lot of food for a needy family. Mom enjoyed the food and the attention, but she wasn’t sure about the hat. I signed us up, paid our $5 dues and thanked Jean and Diana for the invitation.
We missed the December meeting because of scheduling conflicts, but our new venture gave me ideas for Christmas gifts. Mom was getting to the stage where she didn’t really “need” anything, but now she needed a red hat and so did I. I found a matching pair that fit the need without breaking the budget, and then I went to the craft store. In addition to their red hats, these fun ladies also wear purple. I bought some wide ribbon with purple flowers for hat bands and a couple of purple plumes for panache. We laughed and had fun on Christmas morning, but Mom never really liked her hat.
We went to the January meeting, and she fidgeted and complained about her hat until I finally told her it was okay to take it off. The February meeting was a luncheon at a local Japanese restaurant. By then, Mom was becoming more insecure and clingy and didn’t want to go anywhere without Dad. I talked with the powers that be in the group, and they agreed it would be fine for Dad to come along for lunch. They said he could be our mascot, even without a red hat. The outing went fine, but the male presence disrupted the chemistry of the group. Shortly after that, Mom and I hung up our red hats. I could have continued without her, but her insecurities made it difficult for me to leave her, and I wanted to share the few times I got away with David.
One of the red hats came out of retirement once more before it went to the Salvation Army during our move to Texas. On one of his birthdays, I sent Christian a birthday card with a picture of a cat dressed in a cowboy hat and bandana. I got an e-mail thanking me for the card and commenting that he’d like to see David dressed up like that. None of us had a cowboy hat, but bikers always have bandanas, and I had a hat and a camera. David may not qualify as a Red Hat lady, but he’s definitely a good sport!