Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day . . .

Yesterday . . . No, I'm not going to break into song, although, as those who know me in person can attest, that's not out of the ordinary for me.  :-)

Yesterday was quite a day.  I spent most of it with my cousin, ME.  We have been close all our lives, and we have both been attempting to help one of my other cousins, S, as he works through his mom's passing.  ME has done more of the hands-on helping than I have.  She's better equipped.  Mostly I talk, and listen, and occasionally read the riot act.  S loves us both, and he's doing the best he can.  Unfortunately, he's one of those men who never really had to grow up, and now that he's had to, pretty much overnight, it's not been an easy journey for him.  But, he truly is doing the best he can, and while he might not be doing things as quickly or in the way I or ME would, we are both learning to just take a step back while continuing to encourage him.

My Aunt died a year ago - on my birthday.  It took S a year to agree to an estate sale, which occurred two weeks ago.  I didn't go.  There were a few things I wanted, and I got some of them before everything was settled for the sale.  The estate sale went well, but there was so much stuff left that S had a second sale - a garage sale - on Friday and yesterday.

ME and I had lunch with her dad, and then ran over to the Home Depot so I could get some potting soil and some new pots for some plants in my sunroom.  She had spent the morning helping S with the sale, and we went back over there after our jaunt to look over what was left.

I had wanted a silly picture (The Picture) that had hung in my Aunt's home for pretty much as long as I could remember, and I had asked ME to pick The Picture up for me at the original sale if it didn't sell, but she forgot.  So I thought I'd see if it was still there, and then she told me she had already grabbed The Picture for me, and there was a blood pressure cuff, and I figured that would be a good thing to have.  I didn't plan on bringing home anything else.  I mean, I have been continually down-sizing and divesting in this house since I moved into it and my own mom passed, 8 years ago.

Two glass hurricanes, a Jello mold, a 3-part Christmas tray, The Picture, the BP cuff, a Christmas tablecloth that I'm sure was my mom's, a wooden TV table that is perfect in my sunroom, a 3-piece green beaded wool suit, a kitchen tablecloth with fruit on it, assorted other bits and pieces and a wedding gown later, I trundled on home.

Yes, a wedding gown . . .

I really had no intent other than The Picture and the BP Cuff.  It was sad to be in the house with strangers pawing the dregs of what was left.  And what was left was mostly junk.  My wacky Aunt, God rest her, loved junk. :-)  She was my mom's sister-in-law.  She was glamorous. She always wore wigs.  She was flamboyant (she had been a burlesque dancer!), and she loved sparkly sometimes fur-trimmed clothes, and she loved jewelry of all kinds - and junk.  Figurines, boxes of plastic Christmas decorations, snow globes, artwork from KMart.  You name your junk of choice and she probably had it.  And by yesterday, the junk was pretty much all that was left.  ME and I looked around again, mostly looking for things to buy so we could help S out.  Then, as I was looking around her bedroom, tossed carelessly into a laundry basket on the floor, I saw her wedding dress . . .

Many years ago, when I got married the first time, my Aunt sent her wedding dress out to Denver (where I was living at the time) with the hopes that I might wear it.  My own mother's wedding dress had been lost in a car theft years before, so I was very happy to try it. 

Simple, elegant, off the shoulder, long sleeves that came to a graceful point on the back of my hand.  Plain, cream-colored heavy satin. 

Dress 01

Princess lines, simple train, small ruffled underskirt, and around the shoulders, gathered cream  Brussels lace beaded with pearls and rhinestones. 

Dress 02

I'd seen the pictures of her in it (she was a stunner), and I adored it.  But, unfortunately, although I was pretty much bone thin then, my Aunt had been a dancer in her day, and even though I could get it on, it was just too tight around the rib cage for me to comfortably wear it.  I don't remember why I didn't try to have it altered - it was either because it was vintage late 40s/early 50s and there didn't seem to be a way to alter it well, or that she might have asked me not to change it.

At any rate, I disappointedly boxed it back up and sent it back to her, where, apparently, it remained, sealed in the box for more than 25 years until we found it after she died.  We opened the box that day and it looked exactly as it had when I returned it, still cradled in tissue - no apparent damage.

Dress 03

. . . I picked it up gently from the floor, wondering who had so carelessly tossed it there, and gently draped it over my arms and took it out to my car, and then went back for the box and the underskirt.  I paid S for it. 

I guess I will take it to Lansing Cleaners and see about preserving it.  Maybe one of ME's nieces will wear it some day.  Probably not, though.  I don't know why I think I should do this - I didn't keep either of the ensembles I actually wore.  A friend of mine has the dress and jacket I wore for my first wedding (and another friend has the hat and veil, and I donated what I wore for the second one to the Second Chance Shop a few years ago.  Why I felt compelled to rescue my Aunt's dress is beyond me at present, but there it is.

With my Aunt's passing last year, I became the matriarch of my clan.  It's not a mantle I wear well.  I'm not a mom, and I certainly don't have all the answers that my mom and my wacky Aunt did.  I miss them both, and many is the time in the past 8 years I have wished in vain for my mom so I could ask her what to do or what to say in a given situation . . .

On we go, each on our chosen paths.  If you still have your mom, honor her - not only today, but every day.  If you are on the outs with your mom, make it up - you will miss her when she is gone in a way that you can't understand until you don't have her anymore.  And if your mom is gone and you have regrets, forgive yourself and know that you both did the best you could. 

I work at letting go of the past all the time - I have a tendency to hold on too tightly I think.  Letting go of the past frees us for our journey - possessions sometimes weigh us down.  But there are memories of hope and promise embodied in this dress.  Memories of my sometimes contentious relationship with my Aunt (she could be mean, but we always made it up) are tied up in this satin and lace somehow.

I've decided that it won't hurt to hold on to this memory for awhile longer.

4 comments:

Michelle said...

Reading this has me all choked up, dear friend. No, nothing wrong with holding onto that memory a little longer....

Kristyn said...

I think she wanted you to have it and was whispering so in your ear.

A :-) said...

Thanks you guys :-) I'll let you know how it turns out when I take it to the cleaners.

candy said...

I think you made the right choice to save it. We need to save some things, not just everything, like I once did. Very touching post.