how to dress in public

Fluffy pyjamas and a day at the beach

Something happened today that has never happened before. Mother wanted to go out and visit Lepe Beach. We used to go there years ago; it’s a place she has loved for years. Today, I told her she either had to change her clothes, or remain in the car at all times.

Yeah, I was embarrassed.

This has never happened before. Although she’s never been the height of fashion, Mother would never have gone out in loud tartan fleecy trousers that look like pyjama bottoms. These days she doesn’t seem to care as much as she did. When I told her I would not walk down the street with her dressed like that, she was a little put out. We laughed about it, but she did end up staying in the car.

Some might think me harsh, but I see it as a little sign that she has begun to give up her hold on life. She’s 83 and due to her obesity, she’s quite disabled now. It’s as if, one by one, the little things that symbolise how we cling vibrantly to each moment of life, are being let go. She used to care how she looked when she went out in public. She used to take care to dress smartly and appropriately for a large woman, and we both used to express disdain at how women we saw out and about, were dressed. “I would never go out like that,” she would often say.

Well now she is, and it’s not just that I don’t like her dress sense. It’s what lies beneath that worries me. Do I keep trying to encourage her not to let herself go any more than she has done already, or do I just let her give up little by little? She’s a grown up after all, and has the right to make her own choices and live by them.  It’s just a shame to see how far she has fallen. It is true that there is no dignity in ageing, and even less in death.