Appearance meant everything.
She dressed her children in exquisite outfits,
ironed and edited her husband’s clothes.
She knew how to make us look attractive.

Her feet hurt from wearing
shoes a half-size too small.
She made me cautious in my clothes,
wary about grass and ink and food stains.

Concerned with style to the end,
she requested a closed casket for her funeral.
So when we selected
her final change of costume,

I chose the most comfortable ensemble
for her to wear into the great beyond:
wool socks to keep her feet warm,
her worn cotton shirt and soft sweats.

Flo, her caretaker, and I were pragmatists.
“What good are fine garments now?”
we asked ourselves. Since then, I’ve wondered,
“Did I betray my mother’s fashion sense?”

Was I celebrating her release from suffering
and dressing her for a zone of comfort?
Or was this my redress for deferring to elegance,
a model forced to cut a beautiful figure?

Our priest suggested that we’ll never know.