I knew what I wanted from my grandmother when she was ready to give it up and I told her. When I would visit her in windy cold Tule fogged in San Francisco, she would let me wear her fur coats. Never ever before or after the wearing of the furs did I feel more regal. I came from a very warm climate in Southern sunny Los Angeles, so when I would arrive for a visit to Grandma Dora and Grandpa Joe, it was a quick hello and a whisk off to buy me undershirts, a sweater, a jacket and some socks. When Grandma Dora passed away, I received as physical remembrances of her, a half used lipstick, all of her undershirts, which I Tie- dyed, and her Russian Silver Fox jacket. What treasures, all of them.
Before I continue with the unearthing of my grandmothers silver fox jacket, let me tell you I began having a flashback of visiting in my grandparent’s home and being given permission to search for treasures in the downstairs basement which had, to the naked eye, basic furniture and all the signed books from My Uncle Irving Stone. But, leave it to a child in a candy store, or that is how I felt being given searching rights. I unearthed from the very recesses of the closet that held her silver fox jacket, a box full of little bits and pieces of jewelry. They did not have anything connected to them or did they relate to each other in any way, but they were unusual and one of a kind pieces. When I showed the unearthed box to my grandmother she was very surprised and told me she had forgotten about the box since her mother who was in the pawnshop business, put it there before she died.
We had a wonderful, more than wonderful, an astonishing and brilliant afternoon picking through each piece and enjoying guessing where they had been and what they had adorned. She finally made the statement that I could pick three items to keep. Oh my, I leapt and pranced and ran around the box picking what would be mine. Not so fast, not so easy, lots of moans and groans and picking became the hardest work imaginable. I must tell you that I learned then and there, that my grandmother stuck to her word and never, ever gave in to pleading. I learned from a master grand dame and I never forgot her secret desire peeking through to give me the moon, but she stuck to her three pieces. I took the three pieces and they hang framed in my living room ever since our encounter that foggy cold afternoon in the basement of their Ocean Avenue home.
Now to the saga of the Russian Silver Fox jacket. I never thought my request to have it would come to pass. Why? There are many, many San Francisco relatives who I thought wanted it, too. Who I thought would be chosen over me. Why I thought that they would be chosen and not me is another story. But to my joy and delight I have had the jacket for 47 years. It was worn, stored and worn again and again stored. Then, PETA: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals became very vocal and very physical in the early 1980’s, so the jacket went into semi-permanent storage until yesterday. I opened the bag containing the jacket and little hairs began to fly. I threw it in re-cycling. I went in the house in psychic pain. I saw all the faces of those who had wanted the jacket. I saw my grandmother looking at me. I remembered my fervent desire to own my grandmother’s precious possession. I ran outside and pulled the jacket from the trash bin and shook and shook the jacket; hairs flew. Albeit, less and less hairs flew as I continued to shake. I put the jacket in the drier on air dry. I took it out of the drier, took it outside and shook it again. The more I shook the more beautiful it became. I thanked all of the Russian Silver foxes that lent their hides to make this jacket. I did not apologize to PETA because after all, this jacket was before PETA’s time, then, again, the concept of cruelty to animals should have always have been observed. Now the beautifully fluffed jacket is hanging in a closet downstairs.
At this writing I wonder if I am really going to wear the jacket. I know I am, I just do not know when. When I wear it, it will sing out about the relationship between my grandmother and me. It will show that I was chosen to receive this gift by someone who valued my request. I will wear the jacket with one of her tie-dyed undershirts and complimented by lips wearing the half used lipstick she left behind. I will once again feel glorious and regal. I will melt into my grandmother.