As I emptied my Mother’s closet after her death five years ago, in the back I discovered a thick and hearty maroon housecoat that I had never seen before. It was big, beautiful and new. The tag on the back said L.L. BEAN.
The only reason I can think of it being in the back of the closet and unused was that she was more often hot than cold in the four years that she lived in her little apartment after her beloved Jim’s death.
Indeed, I remember many conversations with her as she described the attempts by the apartment buildings’s management insisting that she remove the air conditioner from her apartment window during the winter months or she would be subject to heavy fines and penalties.
I had visited her during winter and cold spring months in Vermont and found her apartment to be always toasty and warm even without the heat being turned on.
She never had the heat turned on.
To this day, I still cannot figure out why her second story apartment never got cold.
I never saw her wearing the red housecoat.
And so, fast forward five years to this past May when it came time for us to leave on our Alaskan adventure.
When it came to deciding what clothing I would take along with me on the trip, Mother’s red housecoat was an obvious choice.
The only downside was the housecoat’s bulk.
It would easily take up a quarter of the camper’s bedroom storage closet unless tightly rolled up. Secondly, I knew for a fact that it would take up half of any industrial sized washing machine. There was no chance of it fitting into my small portable washing machine which I had purchased on Amazon for $150.00 and fit snugly into the camper’s shower stall for storage.
In spite of all that, I am so glad that I brought it with me.
I found a place for it on a hook in the bathroom next to the door.
During our trip, there were many chilly days when I never took the housecoat off even during midday when I was fully dressed.
Even my husband gladly wore it it while having his 6:00 a.m. coffee outside amid the glaciers and 50 degree temperatures while I continued sleeping snugly in my warm bed as the furnace ran without end.
The photo you see posted above is me wearing the housecoat in Seward, Alaska as I sat at the foot of glaciers drinking my morning coffee and watercolour painting.
It was warmer than any coat or sweater I had brought along.
Bobby-Dog fit easily the coat when cold winds started coming in, or during a sudden or unexpected drop in temperature.
It was also very useful during evening campfires along the way because not only was it warm, it was an excellent armour against mosquitoes who tormented me to no end.
Now, three months later during the last days of the trip the housecoat looks tired and could certainly use a wash. Even so, it still easily passes the “sniff test’ and will be used until the last day.
It has suffered no holes, broken seams, not even a single fray, and the zipper works like the first day I tried it on.
So this is the part where I give credit where credit is due.
Kudos to L.L. Bean for making such an excellent housecoat.
Also, thank you Mother for purchasing it in the first place, even though you never used it once.
It’s almost like she knew along that I would need it some day.
It’s a gift to know that she can still bring me joy.