Warning: Read only if you’re a sucker for happy endings. All others, read at your own risk. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Back Story, 2011 to 2012: To regain stamina post-cancer treatment, I’d take daily brisk walks around my neighborhood. I would often run into a man named Mark, who was one of the managers at my residence.
October 2012: Lots of changes occurred in my life since cancer, including a move from Los Angeles to Northern California on October 19, 2012. Remember I’d mentioned that cancer may have a domino effect, sending other parts of your life tumbling? So this was that and, not to be a whiner, but I suspect I was that person who everyone else is glad they’re not. That’s for all of you who hate the sappy crap. Nothing like a little schadenfreude to cheer you up. Oh, there I go, making you happy again.
Will I get to the story already?: Why, of course. Upon moving out, I went to the management office to turn in my keys. Mark was there and chatted with me before I made the long drive. In fact, we had a great conversation — the type where you both feel high from the spontaneous combustion of good energy. I mentioned that I had gone through cancer, that I’d just celebrated my birthday and how grateful I felt just to be here to celebrate another birthday. Yep, I said, aging is a gift, especially considering the alternative. I shared a bit of my difficult climb and we both agreed that joy won’t grow you, but the hard stuff, that’ll age you in no time! Maybe “mature” is a better word.
So we’re connecting as like-minded people tend to do when I realized he wasn’t connecting the dots between the woman who stood before him and the bald, hatted woman he’d seen taking daily walks just the year before. I said, “Remember that woman you’d see walking, wearing a hat? … That was me.” He was literally taken aback. Now I always use “literally” in its literal-intended use, so yes, his body jolted backward. His eyes also bulged, but I won’t say they did so literally because that’s just cartoonish. “No way!” he said. “That was you!?” I said, “Yes, that was me. I’m the woman in the hat.”
He expressed his shock that even then, he couldn’t see the resemblance between the woman who stood before him and the one who passed him on her daily walks. I’d recovered, was “glowing” and, as he noted, even looked younger than my stated age. (Side note: Women, don’t lie about your age. But if you must, “lie up.” Make yourself older than you are. People will think you look great, especially for 82!)
Mark said, “I’d see you walking, always walking, and I’d think to myself, ‘God bless her. She sure is determined.'”
And so I became the Woman in the Hat, even though I don’t need to wear hats any longer but if the blog’s title were “Woman who was in the Hat,” or “Woman who used to wear a hat but doesn’t need one anymore,” or “Woman in the Hat Comes Back! but this time without the hat,” I don’t know, those titles just aren’t catchy.
And so it is: Woman in the Hat. But not literally. Not anymore.