My grandmother Sadie (Sura Perl z”l) was a tailor. She was born near Muncasz, Hungary, near the border of Czechoslovakia. She came to America as a teenager after fleeing the pogroms that were taking over Europe as World War II gained momentum. She arrived with a handful of siblings and made a life for herself in New York.
My grandmother worked in sweatshops and raised three daughters, the middle of whom is my mother. My grandmother and grandfather both made my mom and my aunts dresses and coats with great skill and love.
One such coat is this one. I call it my “funeral coat” because I wear it to funerals. It is light (for warm weather) and it’s roomy enough to layer with warm layers underneath for the cold. It is expertly made and it is gorgeous, but the reason I love it so much is that my grandmother—who was a very dour and conservative woman—lined it with a psychedelic-colored striped fabric which reveals (at least I would like to think) some of the depth of her character and personality.
When I wear it to funerals, I am reminded how much complexity there is to life. Life, like this beautiful coat my grandmother made, is not just about what you see. It’s also about what is hidden and what you choose to reveal.
Now it’s your turn—what’s an item of clothing that means a lot to you? And be sure to read our other My Favorite Hand-Me-Down posts here.