Sunday Stories: “The Traveling Mink Coat”


The Traveling Mink Coat
by CAT Wyatt

My father, a military pilot during WWII, was on a training mission a month before Valentine’s Day, 1945. Urgently needing to find a present for my mother, he went into the town close to his training facility. He noticed a beautiful mink coat in a shop window, a luxurious full-length, mahogany-colored, sheared mink coat with a caramel-colored silk lining. The lining reminded him of my mother’s silky, taffy-blonde hair. After purchasing the coat, he waited while a seamstress embroidered my mother’s and his initials deep inside the left slit pocket. My father wrote a card and tucked it in the same pocket, knowing she was left-handed and always kept a handkerchief in her left coat pocket, knowing she would find the card and their initials. 

He wrote on the card in his best cursive, “This mink traveled long distances just so it could keep you warm while I’m away.”  

On Valentine’s Day, 1945, my father gave her the mink coat. He deployed two days later for the Pacific Theatre. One month later he was killed in action. 

My parents’ wedding plans died when my father did, leaving my mother devastated and pregnant with me. She wore the mink coat one more time—to his funeral. I was born five months later and given up for adoption. 

The mink coat, hidden in plain sight for seventy years, moved about the country with my mother. Shelley, my half-sister, eighteen years younger, had emphysema and lived with our mother. Shelley queried our mother several times about the coat and finally, just before our mother died, she told Shelley about the coat. Why she couldn’t ever wear it. The truth about me. I met Shelley last month for the first time. She brought something of “our” mother’s to give to me. 

I imagined a doll, a figurine, maybe a photo. It was the “traveling mink coat.” The coat stored in her clothes closet in plain sight, all these years. My mother saved the coat with explicit directions to Shelley to find me and give the coat to me. As Shelley hugged me, she whispered in my ear, “This coat has waited seventy years to meet you and is where it now belongs.”

I couldn’t bring myself to open the red leather bag. Don’t know why, maybe because it would be opening “Pandora’s box” and the story within would escape before I could explore it. I needed to be alone with the coat so it could whisper its love story. The bag, coat inside, traveled in the front seat of the rental car to my hotel room and painstakingly on my flight to Medford. I wasn’t going to let it out of plain sight now that the coat had found me. 

At home, the mink coat wasn’t very far away from me. I felt it. It hung on its original cedar wood hanger. Two days after receiving the coat, the coat and I went on to Klamath Falls with my daughter. We—the coat and I—rode in the backseat. 

The traveling mink coat and I were in Klamath Falls on Valentine’s Day. The coat had come full circle.

The mink coat and I had met before—seventy years ago. I had felt the love and the warmth of the mink surround me before I was born. I didn’t tell my daughter about the traveling mink coat’s story, because I wasn’t sure she would understand. Right now was not the right time. I needed time alone with the coat, first. When I returned home, then I would open the red leather bag.

Next step was to head home. The red leather bag with the traveling mink coat was again traveling for another of life’s adventures. Once home, I carefully opened the red leather bag, hanging the coat up by its original hanger, in front of a stained glass window which, like the coat, had traveled from Klamath Falls. I ran my fingers along the soft, luxurious fur. My fingers caught on a slit. My first thoughts were that the coat had a tear, but it wasn’t a tear, it was a side pocket. Reaching into the deep silk pocket, my fingers felt some stitching on the silk. I fumbled with the silk trying to turn the pocket inside out. After a couple of minutes, I realized there were some embroidered initials—monograms—my mother’s and father’s. They were designed the way initials are carved inside a heart on a tree trunk, just much more delicately. Although I didn’t know who my father was, I at least now had his initials, CHS, with my mother’s, MB. The coat showed very little wear and had been well taken care of for the last seventy years. 

I sat on the carved “hope chest” thinking about the traveling mink coat’s adventures and where in the world it had traveled. And then, one story and then another started to come out of plain sight. I ran my hand gently over fur and the embroidered initials of the traveling mink coat. My intuition tells me to write this story, to imagine stories of my other family. The coat is part of me now… When and where the stories will stop flowing is unknown. 

Looking out through the stained glass window, a kaleidoscope of colors mesmerizes me as I recapture some stories I’ve already lived. These stories are replenishing my soul. And with the help of the traveling mink coat anything is possible, and I hope to discover more stories that remain hidden in plain sight.


Intuitive, colorful, prolific storyteller and an eccentric free spirit CAT Wyatt was raised in a small town named Aloha and drawn from experiences that have either placed her in the right place at the right time, or the wrong place at the wrong time. Her stories show “slice of life” adventures and mysteries with a sly sense of humor. She has never turned down a new adventure. She has worked in law enforcement, fire bureaus, and trauma intervention. Published in several periodicals, and mentored under the tutelage of Julie Cantrell, Sadeqa Johnson, Pam Houston, Richard Bausch, and Luis Alberto Urrea. CAT lives in Alaska with her husband, adopted cats and where she can still see the ocean and mountains at the same time.

Photo source: Ryul Davidson/Unsplash

Follow Vol. 1 Brooklyn on TwitterFacebook, and sign up for our mailing list.