I am on a flight home to be with my parents. My grandmother passed away on Friday morning. I don’t have any cool pictures from the world of fashion to post, nor news of projects recently completed. But, I do have some fashion memories to share about Mumu, whose very nickname refers to a garment. (The traditional Hawaaiian skirt is called a mumu.) She turned 97 years old this July, and we had a little birthday party for her. On this day and others during my visit, she toggled between being unsure of who we were and remembering well — fishing for compliments on her outfit no less! Mumu was unlike me and my mom — she was as vain as she could be! She was also a great beauty with reason for her vanity. She was tall and graceful. She and my grandfather look like movie stars in their formal photographs of 1938. At 97 she loved to have her hair “done” at the small seniors home where she lived. She still felt she didn’t have enough clothing, though her activities were limited and she could no longer dress herself.
But the memory I want to share is not from this summer but rather another summer. When I was 12, I was considered old enough to fly on my own to Rehoboth Beach, where Mumu lived. It was a slow trip, with perhaps one fun activity to pursue per day. My grandmother was already in her late 60s. One of these days, we were headed for the beach. I’m 12, remember, insecure and undeveloped and convinced that everyone is LOOKING at me. But I was more worried about the combination of me PLUS my very uncool grandma. Mumu was always careful with her skin, and skin cancer runs in the family. Off we went to the beach, and Mumu was dressed from head to toe in shades of yellow. Yellow slacks. Yellow blouse, buttoned up, probably polyester. And a big floppy hat. Doubtless there were summer shoes which I don’t remember. So we arrive at the beach, but it’s not enough to have all this clothing. Mumu rents an umbrella! I was mortified the whole time, I’m sure, but I don’t remember being miserable. I remember liking swimming at the beach. I definitely remember the yellow.
I am grateful for the memories from both trips — grateful for all of the memories I have of her.