The ‘Hat’ Says It All

Brody Kane

by BRODY KANEBrody Kane - feature author Wilson Living Magazine

Brody Kane meets The Sugar Plum Girls of the Red Hat SocietyStanding left to right: Marsha McCalab, Shelly Lanius, Janie Brodhead, Anita Woolard, Sharon Newport, Tiffany Cunningham, Dale Vines, Debbie Walker, Mary Martin, Karla Hall, April Meadows, Lennie Graham, Sitting left to right: Billie Mercer, Judy Pierce, Brody Kane, Bernice Blankenship, Terri McDonough, Susan Partyka

“When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple with a red hat that doesn‘t go and doesn‘t suit me.”
—From The Poem Titled “Warnings” by Jenny Joseph

I am the youngest of four. There are 10 years between my brother and I, and when we moved from Texas to Watertown, Dan, my brother, was 18 and in college. Therefore, growing up I was surrounded mostly by my two older sisters and Mother. My Dad, Bernie, traveled frequently as a salesman and would be gone Monday through Friday.

That left my Mother in charge, followed by older sister Mallorie, then Stacey and then me. As you can imagine, some weeks the house would be a hormonal nightmare! Somebody was always yelling, crying or laughing. Trying to figure out who had the strongest will between the three is a challenge. But if it came right down to it, I’d pick Nell, my Mother. Nell graduated from high school and immediately entered marriage and motherhood. While my Mom didn’t attend college or enter the career world, she was an M.D., CPA and CEO all wrapped into one.

Red Hat Lady Nell - Wilson Living MagazineMy mother Nell with our oldest, Madison, when she was 2 years old. The only “red hat” photo we could find.Many may know her from Watertown. In fact, it was my Mother who got out her tape measure and measured off the first mile for the first ever Mile Long Yard Sale. While she kept herself busy with the Home Demonstration Club and antiquing, she was also active with us in 4-H, Scouts and as a youth leader in our church. Later she would volunteer to teach local adults how to read and write.

Today, my Mom suffers from Parkinson’s and a host of otherailments that have sadly taken a toll on her health, but I still remember well, one of her favorite group outings was being a member of the local Red Hat Society, formed as a by-product of her quilting group.

Well after we had all graduated and left home, my Mother began devoting some of her time to her own interests and soon fell into this group. For the few years she was in it, I remember how much she enjoyed it; the camaraderie, the fun, the sisterhood. She would don her red hat and meet her friends for lunch or dinner, often at the Loveless Café in Nashville. Honestly, I never quite understood what she found so entertaining but whatever it was, it made her happy.

So, when I learned a local chapter of the Red Hat Society was going to be an upcoming feature in the magazine, I gladly agreed to meet these fine women. I figured I’d finally see what piqued my Mother’s interest, so many years ago.

And I’m pleased I didn’t miss out on such a wonderful opportunity.

Red Hat Ladies - Wilson Living MagazineThe Sugar Plum Girls are a group of Lebanon ladies who are affiliated with the National Red Hat Society. The Red Hat Society, which began in 1998, now has over 80,000 members in 31 countries. This grass roots women’s group was started by Sue Ellen Cooper, when she purchased herself, a red fedora, from a thrift store. Soon after, a friend of hers was about to celebrate a milestone birthday, and Sue Ellen bought her friend a red hat, as well, her purpose being to encourage this friend to remember to grow old in a playful manner. One by one, she and her friends started wearing their red hats whenever they would get together to step away from the demands of everyday life and enjoy some laughs.

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