Worn Jackets and Used Tissues

I have a new-to-me winter running jacket. It’s the prettiest dark cornflower blue, fleece-lined, and wind-proof. It’s not that much out of the ordinary, except…

…it was my mom’s.

My dad handed it to me in the days after the funeral. “This would fit you,” he said. Many of my mom’s clothes do not fit me, as the top of her head came up to my chin, on a good day.

“It’s a medium, not a small. Try it on,” my dad said gently. My mother was a big-time clotheshorse. You know how people find stashes of cash around a house after their loved one dies? I found stashes of clothes in all of the closets, under beds, in storage areas, even in my dad’s closet. Needless to say, I wasn’t ready to go through all of her clothes. But my dad was rumaging through the front coat closet, and came across this jacket.


“I bought it for her on one of our trips. It’s warm. She was always cold.”

I tried it on. It fit.

“You could wear it running/I could wear it running!” we pretty much said at the same time.

The jacket went into my suitcase for the trip back home.

The thing with losing a loved one is, life goes on whether you’re ready or not. I had no choice but to jump back into real life…mothering, teaching, wife-ing, etc. Running? I didn’t quite have the energy for that yet.

Two weeks later, I could not ignore The Call Of the Run anymore. My body and brain craved it. It was 25 degrees, and being the cold-weather-wimp that I am, reached for the pretty blue jacket and zipped it up.

Buried in the pockets I found a stash of tissues. One of the pockets held a bunch of neatly folded tissues, ready for use. The other pocket held, well…crumpled tissues I can only assume were “used.” (She had a constantly runny nose from her cancer treatments.) Under normal circumstances, finding someone else’s used tissues would cause me to throw up in my mouth a little. But this little treasure made me smile, as they were hers, and OF COURSE my mother would have one pocket for new tissues and the other for used. She had a system for everything.

While the thought briefly crossed my mind, I did not keep the tissues.

But wearing her jacket that day did not make me sad. It’s really, really hard to feel sorry for yourself when you’re running. Try it, I dare you. Instead, I felt like I was taking her with me on that run, literally and figuratively wrapped around me and keeping me warm. It was a damn good run.


I’ll be kind of sad when the weather warms up and I won’t be able to wear the jacket for a while. She wasn’t a runner, so it is unlikely that I will magically find a tank of hers to wear in the warmer months.

But until then, I’ll enjoy taking a piece of my mom with me on my runs, used tissues and all.



7 thoughts on “Worn Jackets and Used Tissues

  1. Love it Nancy! After losing 3 family members last year I read this with tears in my eyes. The line ” Life goes on ” really hit home to me on SO.MANY.LEVELS. ( I learned that one 15 years ago after my daughter passed away) Many hugs from being sent to you from MD. You look beautiful in the jacket. Thank you for sharing this story.

  2. My mom and her clothes and tissues….made me remember and smile. Though she’s been gone 22+ years, I still remember and still have some of her things – jewelry mostly, we weren’t the same size either.

    My dad just died Friday night (two days ago) your post makes me think of him too even though it’s not the same. (though maybe I have one of his clean handkerchiefs somewhere)

  3. Nancy, As I started this to you, I began “Jane…” But, Nancy, I loved your recounting of you and your mom’s blue jacket. It’s a story you could send to a magazine, it’s so touching and real. I have the commentary that your mom sent me about “the best day of my life” on the wall in my closet where I post many mementoes so I can see it every day and think of her. It was great to have you answer your dad’s phone this a.m. when I called him and found you two driving to Lebanon to see Rob’s last basketball game. Love you and love that you went to visit your dad/my brother for a weekend. Know he is enjoying having you so much.

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