I studied my daughter as we sat on the back seat of the van together on the way home from college graduation. What I saw was a combination of who she is, who she was, and who she may become. All of these images superimposed one on top of the other, changing constantly under the black mortarboard she wore on her head. She had taken off the black gown and red stole, but left the hat with its two tassels on her head.
In reverie as my husband navigated through the heavy traffic I remembered all the different hats my daughter had worn during the different stages of her young life. The first one that came to mind was the knitted pastel hat my mother made for my firstborn before we knew if she would be a boy or a girl, followed by the white cotton baby hat suitable for keeping the sun off a newborn’s face in the summer. As babies do, she kept trying to pull the hat off. These memories were followed by a myriad of Easter bonnets and straw hats, some of which matched dresses and were accompanied by lace gloves and white shoes. A pink baseball cap floated through my semi conscious ponderings. Toddler to preschool years were the years of the pink cap that helped her relate to her daddy. Knitted winter hats and hoods in many colors passed through my daydream in various sizes and shapes. The Girl Scout years saw the proliferation of visors when any hat was worn at all. Once high school came around, the primary hat was the band hat. Not terribly fashionable, worn reluctantly but with pride.
So it was that as we progressed toward our celebratory lunch that I commented on her head covering, saying, “I’ve never seen you wear a hat for such a long time before. I thought you didn’t like hats.” She didn’t look at me when she answered, but I loved the words when she softly said, “I love this hat.” I thought for a moment as I studied the glowing face beneath the black square with its black and gold tassels, the gold one denoting cum laude status. I smiled and said, “Well, it’s a good hat to love.”