Monday, September 12, 2011

Coat of Many Colors



"Back through the years I go wandering again, back to the seasons of my youth. I recall a box of rags someone gave us and how my momma put those rags to use. There were rags of many colors, every piece was small and I didn't have a coat and it was way down in the fall. Momma sewed the rags together, sewin' every piece with love; she made my coat of many colors that I was so proud of.

As she sewed, she told a story from the Bible. ("Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children , because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors.") [Genesis 37:3] She had read about a coat of many colors Joseph wore and then she said, perhaps this coat will bring you good luck and happiness. And I just couldn't wait to wear it and momma blessed it with a kiss.

My coat of many colors that my momma made for me, made only from rags, but I wore it so proudly. Although we had no money, I was rich as I could be in my coat of many colors my momma made for me."


My momma was probably just as thrifty as Dolly Parton's momma was, though my coat of many colors wasn't stitched from rags. And it wasn't an outer garment, but a housecoat made from some very colorful, very inexpensive material. The material was such a good deal that Mom bought the remainder of the bolt without knowing for certain what she would do with it. It became housecoats for both of us with enough left over for some pillow covers.

I know this was around 1970 because I have a picture she took of a very pregnant me wearing the housecoat shortly before Preston was born in 1971. My coat of many colors is still as good as new. I never wore it much - the colors were a bit bold for my taste - but I could never part with it because it was one of the last clothing items Mom made for me. Her matching housecoat was one of the garments I saved after her death. If any of the granddaughters or great-granddaughters want it, I would gladly give it to them.


"So with patches on my britches, holes in both my shoes, in my coat of many colors, I hurried off to school just to find the others laughing and making fun of me in my coat of many colors my momma made for me. And oh I couldn't understand it for I felt I was rich and I told them of the love my momma sewed in every stitch. And I told 'em all the story momma told me while she sewed and how my coat of many colors was worth more than all their clothes.

But they didn't understand it and I tried to make them see that one is only poor only if they choose to be. Now I know we had no money, but I was rich as I could be in my coat of many colors my momma made for me - made just for me." (Dolly Parton)


I have admired Dolly Parton for so many years. I don't think there is a single song of hers that I don't like. Coat of Many Colors is just one of the ones that reminds me of my own childhood and my own dear momma and the coat she made for me.


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