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!