Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Dress

The dress has a long-sleeved bodice of heavily crocheted mushroom-colored lace, with a long, flowing chiffon skirt of a slightly lighter shade. It is breathtaking. As I looked through my closet for garage sale items, this dress was hanging peacefully in the back. It was my "mother of the groom" dress in 1998, and it was the dress that made me feel really beautiful for the first time in my life. I gently took the dress from the closet and placed it with the other clothing, with tears in my eyes. There is really no reason to keep it -- my lifestyle does not include formal gatherings where a dress of this elegance is required. But, how do I part with something that gives me such exquisite pleasure to merely touch.

In the pile it went, as I got down to the real business of preparing for the sale. For the rest of the evening, though, each time I looked at it, I was reminded of its importance in my memories. I am a tall, big-boned woman, whose shape has been "matronly" from puberty on. My family was relatively poor, so the clothing I was allowed to buy as a teenage certainly was not flattering. The sleeves were always too short, the belts a little too tight, and the slacks never long enough. My hair was drab brown and shapeless, and I was the girl that people described by saying, "She has such a pretty face; if only she wasn't so big." People can be cruel, whether unwittingly or deliberately, to a young girl who doesn't fit the prescribed mold.

When my children were young, I was a stay-at-home mom, and with a limited income, I never had extra money to spend on my own clothing -- every clothing dollar went to outfitting three children. I never thought much about myself in those days. I had lost quite a bit of weight as I chased little ones around, so it wasn't as difficult to find clothing that fit. As long as my clothes were clean, my hair washed, and my make up on, I felt fit to face the day.

However, when I saw that dress at the bridal shop on the sale rack, I fell in love. The crocheted lace sleeves covered my wrists and actually brushed my hands with their softness. The chiffon skirts flowed as I walked, and it was so long I actually needed it hemmed a bit to avoid tripping. I felt like Cinderella! The day of the wedding I had my hair done in an upsweep, and as I waltzed through my son's special day, I felt absolutely beautiful. Of course, the wedding pictures told the true tale, and I didn't look as beautiful as I had felt, but that brief feeling of beauty will remain in my heart forever.

You guessed it -- the dress is now hanging back in my closet. I smoothed the lace gently, ran my hands over the ever so delicate chiffon, and tucked it safely away again. How can you possibly put a price on such sublime sentiment!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Garage Sales That Break Your Heart

Lines from a long-ago popular Robert Goulet song keep running through my mind tonight – “If ever I would leave you, how could it be in springtime, Knowing how in spring, I’m bewitched by you so”.

Today was the first garage sale of our household cleanout. We plan to work diligently this summer to gather together the accumulation of forty years of items that are not necessary to our daily existence, and sell them at semi-weekly garage sales. This is not a pleasurable chore; It is not as if I am looking forward to selling our house and retiring to some long dreamed-of location. This is a sale in anticipation of losing this house that has been in my husband’s family for almost 75 years and that holds my heart deeply in its grip.

Life is unpredictable, and things could suddenly take a turn for the better financially. Our family business might ultimately survive this terrible economy; to be realistic, though, we must begin to clean out forty years’ of “things”. I must reconcile myself to watching strangers leave with some of the treasures I have collected through the years.

This past week has been tough – our business lost a large project to another company in a truly unethical deal, which is typical of today’s business climate. And, we spent much of the week preparing for this garage sale.

There were two defining moments for me today. One of the items I placed for sale was a lovely eyeglass holder that had been a gift to me several years ago. I priced it and laid it out on the table sadly, and today a sweet woman, who is herself a “collector”, as I am, said to me, “this is so beautiful, I think you should keep it.” In the end, though, she bought it, and she reassured me that it was going to a “good home”.

As we were putting the finishing touches on the garage sale early this morning, I looked out over my gardens – the plants that were so tiny three weeks ago are now covering the garden with green. They seem to grow inches each day. I think back over the years I have spent planting and tending and loving my trees and gardens and birds, and the strains of Robert Goulet’s song played in my heart, “If ever I would leave you, how could it be in springtime….”

I don’t want to leave this house – I have been totally content here for almost forty years. It may be outdated and weathered, and my gardens and my possessions may not mean anything to others, but they mean the world to me.