The gift that keeps on giving.

 It is often difficult to navigate this life without parents. I know there are far too many of us out there who were “orphaned” as young adults, and it’s a club in which no one want to belong. That being said, I think it’s even more emotional to navigate life without your mother.  This becomes even more challenging when you become a mother yourself and often need and want some comforting advice from someone you love and trust. 

The holidays are especially difficult, but each year when I find my heart hurting a bit I distract my sadness by surrounding it with thoughts of my own children - and am reminded of how much joy they bring me.  Now that we aren’t fighting about the wrong Christmas presents, curfews and other teenage trials, the happiness bubbles right to the top of my heart.  

This year, I received an unexpected surprise that brought me so much joy. A few months ago my cousin Greg reached out to me and told me that he was in possession of his mother’s high school prom gown. He thought this might be of particular significance to me, because apparently my mother had purchased this prom gown in France for my aunt to wear to her prom. We were living in Nice, France at the time when my father was stationed there as a part of the JAG division of the Sixth Fleet. My mother bought the gown for my aunt, and had it shipped to her in time for her prom. I never knew this story, and was stunned. 

My cousin then went on to say that the dress was going to be passed to one of his four daughters, none of whom ever appeared interested in wearing it to any of their proms. They are tall, athletic beauties who never fit into my aunt’s petite dress. That, or it simply wasn’t their style. 

He then asked me if I would like to have the dress, since my mother had been the one to purchase it.  I was ecstatic! Of course I wanted it! I immediately began looking for an old fashioned dress form that I could use to display the dress.  

I went to many antique shops until I found the perfect dress form. I had to squeeze and push together the rusted pieces of metal used to expand and squeeze together the various parts of the form in order to get the dress to fit on the form. My aunt was very tiny and petite when she went to her prom - her waist must have been 22 inches! 

Now as I look upon the beautiful dress, I think of what my mother must have felt when she went looking for this for her sister. It must have filled her heart with joy to be able to do this for her. My mother, a young woman from a small coal mining town in the middle of the mountains of Pennsylvania was now the wife of a Navy lawyer living in the south of France- where she went shopping for a beautiful dress so that her sister- still living in that tiny coal mining town- could wear something special to her high school prom. 



Sheila said...

She's visiting you again!

Anonymous said...

It is always nice to see a post from you. Did you get married and I missed the post. Happy Holidays!


Gabriela said...

Oh what a heartwarming anecdote! Man, it's good to read you again. Congratulations on having received the beautiful prom dress your sweet mother bought in the south of France for her little sister's prom. I love that you went through the effort to locate and acquire a proper dress form with which to display that beauty! What a treasure. Merry Merry!

Jenny Hart Boren said...

I have a photograph of my sister at some prom or another, about 1960. Her best friend is with her, both wearing ruffled-net party dresses of that exact style! I loved this story; thank you for sharing it.

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