Thursday, May 18, 2017

Remembrance of Things Past

My Mom-Mom had a blanket that her sister made for her. Her sister finished it right before she passed away; I'm not quite sure whether her sister gave it to Mom-Mom, or whether it was given to Mom-Mom after her sister's passing. Regardless, Mom-Mom would always tell us about how that blanket sat up on the shelf in her closet ever since. It just made her too sad to use it. I could never quite see why something made with love would make Mom-Mom feel this way.

The other day, while looking for something to wear for a day of very long train rides, I came across this dress and finally understood.


This dress came from my grandma, on a day filled with joy. My mom, my aunt Cheryl, and my grandma had gone to Lord and Taylor to find outfits for Cheryl and Grandma to wear to my wedding. I think my grandma might have driven us there, which is why I don't recall feeling the existential fear that comes with being my mother's passenger.

We picked a zillion dresses for Cheryl to try, and as usual, I couldn't resist trying on a few myself. (The dressing rooms there are the size of a moderately large Manhattan bedroom, luckily!) I was drawn to the colors in this shift right away, even though it isn't my usual full-skirted silhouette, and brought one in to try on.

My face when I first tried on this dress.

It was everything. My mom, Cheryl, and Grandma all agreed that this was a really lovely dress, and perfect for my new job.

My grandma immediately said she'd get it for me, because she never passed up an opportunity to give her family something that she thought would make them happy. (This tendency meant that she and her children would argue about who would pay for dinner every. Single. Time. After a while, my mother realized that the best solution was to let my grandma think she'd won, and then sneak some cash into Grandma's 'secret' cash-hiding spot.) I refused, but as usual, resistance was futile.

We left with a dress for Cheryl, a lovely lace blouse for Grandma, and for me: this dress. I wore it back to Chicago that Monday, and again to work a number of times last summer. I think it made my grandma happy to know that it was comfortable for a day at my desk, and that I was getting plenty of use out of it. Then winter came and I put it away, only to rediscover it after we'd lost my grandma.

Now, I cry all the time, at the drop of a hat, but even I was surprised at how emotional it made me. Something about seeing this dress and thinking about how excited about the wedding we all were when she got it for me made our loss that much more real to me. It made me dwell on all the things that will happen without her in the future. And after spending most of the day in that state, I finally understood why Mom-Mom never used her sister's blanket. Something that's given in joy and love can become a reminder of how much you've lost, of what's missing from the world.


But at the same time, it just didn't feel right to pack the dress away, never to wear it again. I don't think that's the best way to honor my grandma's memory and constant, unfailing generosity. So I wore it, and I'm going to wear it again and again. And when I wear it, I'll think of how lucky I was to have a grandma like her in my life for so long, and of all of the love she gave me.

My grandma's face when she saw me in my wedding dress, all ready. Moment captured by Melissa of Marble Rye Photography.

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19 comments:

  1. Beautifully written. As countless grandmas have said over the years, wear it in good health.

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    1. That's exactly what Grandma said when she gave this dress to me!

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  2. I smiled at the beginning of this blog because my mom too....is in fact....a horrible driver. I'm sure my booty clenches every time I am in the car with her.....because oof.

    Then I got teary-eyed because this made me think of my sweet little Grammy. I miss her. I have a dress of hers that was given to me because my aunt thought I'd like it. It's a cute dress but too large for me. I can't get myself to give it to Goodwill. I have old sweaters of my Grammy's. One is a Christmas sweater (too big) and a black and gold cardigan (also too big) but those I wear with love. I miss her and my grandfather very, very much. I was very close to my maternal grandparents. It hit me really hard when she died a couple years ago. My cousin on my paternal side text me something that made me cry and smile at the same time - "imagine the faces on your grandparents when they saw each other again in Heaven." Geez, that made me tear up just typing it.

    Beautiful blog....thank you for sharing <3

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    1. It's so wonderful to have something of your Grammy's to cherish forever, even if you never wear it. You can look at it and remember everything you love about her.

      Your cousin found exactly the right words when she texted you... it's a great comfort to me to think about my grandparents being reunited after almost twelve years, and I know yours are looking down on you with love.

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  3. Beautifully written this made me tear up a little bit! My great grandmother was the same and we sadly lost her not to long ago ๐Ÿ’–

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    1. Awwww Kim, I'm sorry for your loss. It's such a blessing to get to know a great grandparent, and you'll always cherish your memories of her.

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  4. This post brought tears to my eyes. When you lose someone your memories of them are so precious and I think it's so great when you have things like this dress to cherish. What a lovely post. <3

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    1. That is just so sweet of you -- thank you for your kind words. I'm thankful I have so many memories of my grandma to treasure forever.

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  5. I just really want to give you a hug right now. Beautifully written. I can't say I've been in the same situation, but I know how it feel to associate pieces of clothing with someone you love who's no longer there. I have all the feels right now.

    x Envy
    Lost in Translation

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    1. <3 <3 <3 thank you, my friend. I'll accept the virtual transatlantic hug gladly.

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  6. I love the dress as well as the story that goes with it; thank you for posting!

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    1. Thank you! This post was tough to write but cathartic in the end.

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  7. This made me tear up a little bit. It was very well written. Wearing the dress is the right way to cherish your memories ๐Ÿค—

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    1. Thank you so much, Susanne -- it didn't feel right to pack this dress away forever!

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  8. This is such a sweet post, made me all types of emotional! Love the dress on you and love the story behind it, such a wonderful post!
    With Love Yossy x

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    1. That is so kind of you to say -- thank you so much! Writing it brought up so many feelings.

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  9. This is such a sweet post - that dress is gorgeous and your grandmother seemed like a wonderful lady!

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    1. Thank you so much! She was indeed a special person <3.

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  10. Beautifully written. Such an emotional post. Your grandma seemed like an amazing person. And this dress is so pretty! xx corinne

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