As I put on my old sweater, I am reminded that I am becoming my mother. I wear my old sweater on winter days as I do household chores or pay bills or read the newspaper or do practically anything else in the privacy of my own home. Just like my mother did.
My old sweater is my house sweater. Mine is 100 percent cotton; I think hers was a blend. She wore hers over a sleeveless housedress; I usually pair mine with a T-shirt and jeans. Hers was a bit ragged, but so is mine.
When I was much younger, I used to tease her about her house sweater. Why did she wear something that looked that bad, I wondered aloud. Why didn’t she buy a new one, I brazenly asked. She replied that her sweater wasn’t worn out yet and was perfectly fine for wearing around the house. Besides, she never wore it in public.
And that certainly was true. She dressed up when she went to town. (Our family lived on a farm out in the country, so yes, we went to town.) She usually put on a pantsuit or a coordinated blouse and slacks for the public eye, though she’d wear an appropriate dress if the situation warranted.
I usually don’t dress up near as much for town. In today’s more casual culture, I’m likely to put on my “good” jeans, a knit top, and blazer. However, like my mother, I’ll wear an appropriate dress if necessary.
But at home, it’s back to my house sweater. My kids likely wonder why I wear it, and if ever they should ask, my response to them shall be the same as my mother’s to me, but with an addition: My mother has been dead for 15 years and I miss her. But as I wear my house sweater, I am wrapped in her memory. And that is a comfort no brand new sweater could ever match.
P.S. My mother always had a house sweater. For the record, when an old sweater would finally wear out, she would upgrade to a slightly newer model and continue the process. So when my house sweater no longer serves, I’ll replace it with a not-as-old-one and continue to be just like my mother.