Happy Mother’s Day

When I was a little girl, my mother had one of those fur pieces that still had the animal’s head attached. I think it was an ermine, maybe a mink? It was dark brown, with glassy black eyes, and a mouth that opened and closed. It could bite its own tail.

I don’t know what people were thinking, but back then, it was quite the fashion statement. Plus, my three big sisters and I were fascinated by it.   We watched my mother put on her stockings, her pearls and white gloves, pick up her pocketbook, then throw the mink-head around her neck. Then she went off to church, where I’m sure the hapless animal glared at Reverend Rapp and the choir.

When the mink wasn’t traipsing around church and such, mom zipped it in a mothball laden garment bag. Sometimes, I would crack the zipper so the animal could “breathe.” Sometimes I dressed him up and took him for a ride in my doll carriage.

Despite the fur-piece-with-a-head, my mother was a gentle soul. She taught us to love music, baking, sewing, and family. Despite the fur, she taught us kindness to animals and children. Most of all, she taught us about joy beyond obstacles. She got cancer when I was a teenager. I know it was frightening for her. How could she ever have lived with the inevitability of dying and leaving her beloved children? But she kept hopeful and refused to make cancer a central focus of our family. Instead we sang. Sousa Marches while driving to flute lessons; hymns in four-part harmony; girl scout songs; Broadway Show Tunes.

My mom died when I was quite young. It was devastating and had a profound impact, some of which was negative.  But the spiritual lessons far outweigh any negative consequences.  With my mom, I learned that vibrant life walks hand in hand with death. And that suffering cannot eradicate joy.

Today, on Mother’s Day in the midst of this pandemic, I honored my mother’s joy. I put our 16-pound rabbit, HipHop around my neck. I pretended she was a fur piece with a head. Strangely, our very Bossy Bunny cooperated while Hugh took my picture; and I sang from GUYS AND DOLLS, “Take back your mink; take back your pearls; what made you think, that I was one of those girls?”  (See video from the movie here).

At sixty-one, I AM one of those girls, one of the four Hess sisters.  I am a girl who delights in combining bizarre pictures of animals with quotes from Broadway Musicals.  I am a girl who lives for ridiculous joy. And I have my mother to thank for that.   Happy Mother’s Day, Beloved. Thank you for making me who I am.

“Take Back Your Mink”

 

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19 Responses to Happy Mother’s Day

  1. amy michelson says:

    Omg I love this so much! And you must wear bunny to church!

    Like

  2. Lynn Smiley says:

    Beautiful both of you. Happy Mother’s Day Reverened Bonnie. Your
    Pets hit the Lotto with you!

    Like

  3. Judy says:

    My mother in law gave me one of those fur pieces before she died and Walt and I pondered who might want to wear such a thing to a church event. Walt mused how it would be received in our animal loving faith community. We agreed probably not well. Not sure who thought that fashion piece was a good idea. Different times. Wonder what ever happened to it.

    Like

  4. Christine Voth says:

    Love your Mother’s Day blog! My mom had a mink wrap with two heads. I thought their beedy black eyes and fixed expression faces to be rather creepy. Those furs were the fashion back in the day. I lost my mom to cancer when I was 12, after she battled it for 8 years.

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  5. brocktravis3 says:

    Best yet. Beautiful.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  6. lacyadjuster says:

    16 # of love and such a love share Bonnie..thank you for sharing what this means to you…you are a motherly soul over the animal and human kingdom and I feel blessed at how this shows up in your life and ours…Happy Mothers Day Bonnie! ❤

    Like

  7. Gail Munro says:

    My grandmother and her sister had those things! Don’t know what to call them. They could really strut their stuff. But I believe Hippola is a beautiful stand in.
    Thank you for being you. I feel sympatico with you. My 2 pups are my children. And lovers they are. I haven’t stretched beyond that. But I do help with Waldo and Emma.
    Happy Mother’s Day

    Like

  8. Linda thomas says:

    Thank you for sharing this story…

    Like

  9. Linda Dye says:

    What a wonderful story, and I really needed the laughs about the mink stole. And the fabous photo of you and that amazing rabbit!. What an era that was. I’m so glad she gave you life and that we all are so blessed by your incredible work.
    Love and blessings

    Like

  10. Tammy York says:

    Thank you for sharing your story!

    Like

  11. Doreen says:

    So fun and beautiful. Thank you!

    Like

  12. Melissa Honig says:

    Thank you, Rev. Bonnie! This is a beautiful memory story.

    Like

  13. sjehler says:

    Such a great story!! Thanks for sharing Bonnie 🙌❤️

    Like

  14. Pamela Kelley says:

    Thank you so much for this joyful memory.

    Like

  15. revsuzw says:

    The fur coat story at our house was was that my dad was going to get my mother a for coat for whatever occasion it was (pause for effect)…. a trap and a shotgun. Ha ha now you know where I get my weird sense of humor. My mother eventually got a mink stole from a friend of hers and I have a picture of her wearing it. But at that point in her life I don’t believe she ever wore it outside. Thank you for your beautiful story, Bonnie and the picture of you with your big bunny.

    Like

  16. Karen says:

    Your Mom sounds so lovely and fun. I can see where you got your glorious enthusiasm for every day living. It rubs off on to all of us? So thank you Mom.

    Like

  17. Bill kohut says:

    When are you going to write a book, my dear Rev Bonnie? I want to preorder 10 copies to give to close friends, assuming I can roundup that many to call friends.

    Like

  18. Linda Drevenstedt says:

    Whatever their quirk our Mom is ours forever and we wear her mantle in who we become🙏👍😇

    Like

  19. Rick White says:

    Thank you Bonnie for this story that evokes the spirits of memories past!
    Eliane still has her mink, or ermine, and pulls it out occasionally to awaken the spirits of Moroccan class aspirations. Wearing the mink around her neck, Eliane’s mother joined the French ex-patriot women in preserving refined French culture amidst the increasingly imposing Muslim laws during liberation of Morocco, from colonialism. Those were the days when culture, music, poetry, literature and education were defining of ones place in society. I love it when those spirits of her Mother come to visit our home.

    Like

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