Of all the things to leave in my mother’s house, her wedding dress seems the most odd. I never married, but I remember finding it in attics and wanting to wear it. Every time I go there I touch it, but I still haven’t carried it, on the hanger, to my car and then to my home.
It would be strange to leave it there. As far as I know, the house is being purchased by a single man in his forties. It’s a tiny house, a perfect bachelor pad. I hope he likes flowers because he will be assaulted this Spring by my mother’s gardens.
I’m working on the assumption that he’s not a cross dresser, so that dress should really be moved. Today.
My parents divorced when I was 11, so the wedding dress, wedding album, wedding rings seem like strange symbols from another time. It’s the dress, though, that I don’t get.
The wedding album has family pictures; the rings are gold and a diamond. The dress, as my mother loved to say, was bought off the rack at Lord and Taylor for $30.00 in 1960. It’s also tea length, and has a million buttons on the back; two or three likely popped by my own zealous hands while trying to be a “bride” when I assaulted the dress as a child.
She was a lovely bride. Size 8 in 1960 means the waist of her gown might fit around my thigh.
We are closing on the house today. There are just a few more things for me to gather before it happens. If I’m there and struggling when the new owner gets there, I hope he will understand.
Some would say I should give this dress to a thrift store, but I can’t. Maybe her granddaughters could sew in a bit of lace. Maybe I will become so thin that I’ll wear it to a costume party. Maybe I have to live with it.
My mother was not my mother when she chose that dress. She was a young woman with a masters degree, a Fulbright scholar who spent her time in post war Germany, fluent in three languages. She returned home to teach. She fell in love with a charming Scottish minister who was active in the civil rights movement.
It all went sour after I was born, so I see these things as touchstones of how lives are equally important to ours without our knowledge or existence. What if?
I recall asking her “What if you and Daddy had never met?” and she assured me that I was meant to be although some doubt crept into her voice.
She had every right to answer my “What if?” with a sense of her own life gone astray. I know her now, a year after her death, as a woman and a friend.
I woke up from a dream this morning to the alarm clock buzzing that it is time to close. In my sleepy muddled brain, from my dream, I was singing “My Funny Valentine” as a chanteuse in an amazing dress. I have great dreams.
And this is my funny valentine. I am so sad and so happy to know that this day is the last part of an incredible journey, and that my heart will sing, released from the burden of this house.
But never released from the amazing young woman who bought that dress and dreamed the same way I still do.