White Trash in a Mink Coat/Blog By: Patty Collins-King
The Coat With No Color July 13, 2017
As usual—I really need the biggest EYE ROLL ever! I got ahead of myself, so now I am going to tell you why my blog is called White Trash in a Mink Coat. 🙂
This picture was one we created later. We didn’t take a lot of pictures when I was sick and the few we did take… well I trashed those on ONE FINE DAY, but that’s another story!
Midway through chemo we got hit with some extremely cold weather. On a Monday morning my husband asked me, “What coat will keep you the warmest?” and I said, “Don’t have one.” I couldn’t seem to get warm no matter what. I was on display in jeans with a flannel shirt un-tucked and loosely hanging over my chest so as to not touch my scars and expanders where we were reconstructing new breast. My high heels always matched my flannel shirt or one of my chemo scarves that I layered, but the heels matched one or the other and that was that! My daughter helped me cluster all of my outfits together in my closet. Why was it important to match everything and wear heels? Defiance, plain and simple!
I smiled pitifully—I was pitiful pearl as we used to say—and adjusted my black chemo scarf and the bandanna that covered it. “Momma’s mink, it’s upstairs.” My husband ran up to retrieve it and when he put it on me the dang thing was so heavy it almost brought me to my knees. I looked down at my flannel shirt, jeans and heels and told my husband, “Only me, in the west end of Richmond could look like white trash in a mink coat!” And there you have it! I had only worn the coat a few times in the twenty years or so that I had inherited it. Having always been an animal lover, and learning at a later age about the mink industry, I had mixed feelings about the coat. But I can tell you now—those animals were already dead, it was cold, and momma’s mink with her name sewn into the lining in cursive font was exactly what I needed!!! It wasn’t Dolly Parton’s ‘Coat of Many Colors’, but hey, I thought that I could see similarities in the meaning.
My husband is a patient man but he always tried to scurry me out to the truck quickly on chemo morning. He had a great fear that I would dig in my heels, turn and wobble back into the house. He knew how sick I was on this particular morning and he knew if he could just get me in the truck and sitting down that I’d go. On the ride with the heat blaring he held my hand and squeezed it often. There was no talking during the ride on chemo morning. What could we have said anyway? I wasn’t cold now—my body flipped on me like a light switch—but my knees still knocked together so I tried to picture the little pink Xanax pills running around in my body with magic wands, tapping and calming each nerve ending. Tap, tap, tap!
“Good morning,” the receptionist would say as we walked through the office door—yeah right! My husband got me out of the coat and into a chair and then went to the window to sign us in and give over our co-pay.
They would open the other door and call my name and I would dread that line of square curtain cubicles even though the blood sticking women were so nice. “Let’s see, finger or arm?” she would say while opening my folder. I would chant in my head, finger, finger, finger but I did not always get my way. There were weeks when I would get stuck every single day as my husband dragged me back and forth—and they wondered why I was anemic? Seriously, they were taking blood faster than I could make it! Next we would scoot down the hall to the next waiting room, my husband carrying my coat and handbag because everything was too heavy for me. While we sat and waited, I leaned my head against my husbands’ shoulder and he laced our hands together over momma’s name scrolled in the lining of the mink. I knew then that her question would be the same as mine, “How in the hell did we get here?” My husband and I asked that question quite often.
My name was called again. “Come on hon, don’t you look cute,” (See! It pays to match) smiled the chemo nurse as she led us back into the infusion room. I swear I wanted to scratch that word off of the door with a vengeance and, the only thing that kept me from doing it was chemo brain causing me to forget the razor blade!!! “You look pale hon, you aren’t gonna faint on me are you?” “I don’t think so,” I said, but that is usually what I told my husband right before my knees buckled and I hit the ground. I didn’t have the energy to explain so my husband just said, “You can’t trust her ma’am.”
After four or five hours—I always just prayed ‘til it was over so I couldn’t keep up—my husband gently adjusted my shirt up around my neck, careful not disturb my port-a-cath which might cause me to think about fainting again. He slowly tucked in my arms and hauled me back into the warmth of momma’s mink. I always wanted to walk briskly down the hall, out into the office where the next victims were waiting, and out to the truck, and I did walk briskly too, but it was only in my mind!
My big treat on chemo morning was 7-Eleven coffee. I craved it! I had to have it! Get out of the way people, my man’s coming in to get the big cup! And then I was chatty after that. I gulped and chatted all the way home and my husband never said a word! They put something in my drip that jacked me up and I couldn’t wait to add fuel to the fire with that caffeine ‘cause it felt good—like I was alive!!! And I knew that I’d feel good for a few hours and then while home in my purple and lime green flannel pajamas with my purple suede heels I would lay on that sofa and slowly deflate, just like a balloon. My dignity was gone and it would go even more as the evening wore on, but I damn sure wanted to go down fighting and in style. It may sound insignificant to some of you and if it does, well, I just can’t be responsible for your lack of style! 🙂
Dream Big, Smile Often!