Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Dress

We didn’t choose black on purpose, it just happened to be what we found.  The dress was for Mom.  We girls chose it together, for Dad’s funeral.  She wore it twice—once for the viewing and once for the service. 

The dress had to be easy to get in and out of.   Mom wasn’t as flexible as she used to be.   This one fit the bill and though it was simple, it boasted a classy jacket.  The jacket had sparkles and gold buttons. Mom loved to sparkle.

She looked good in the dress, though her health was failing. Did she look eighty?  We pushed her in a wheel chair.  She usually managed on crutches, but not this time.  

After Dad was gone, Mom’s Alzheimer’s grew worse.  Her fragile memory constantly played tricks with her.  Sometimes Dad was out fishing, other times he was patching up the roof, she didn’t always remember that he was really gone.  The funeral dress teased her from her closet.  She didn’t remember wearing it.

Four months later, I gathered with my sisters to choose another dress for Mom.  This one would be white and she would wear it to her own funeral, lying in a casket she had chosen. 

We dressed Mom, and did her hair for her. It was the least we could do—after all she had done for us. We didn’t mind.   It was a healing experience.  We would miss Mom, but she hadn’t been herself in a long time.  In a way, we had lost her long ago. 

We bid Mom a tearful, cheerful good-bye; more cheerful than tearful, really.  We were glad that she could join Dad and be free of the worn out body that had imprisoned her and the once-sharp mind that had betrayed her. 

I kept the dress.  Black isn’t my color, but we were nearly the same size and the dress was brand new.  I’ve had a few occasions to wear it, but the most memorable were the times I needed my mother.

Though I have grown older and more independent, I still need mom sometimes. I needed her to get through a difficult family occasion.  I needed to feel her love when I felt as if my world were unraveling.

I wore it once to a wedding, when I wanted her to be there. I think she was.

I needed her with me when I was asked to direct a choir.  Mother led choirs her whole life.  This was my first time.  I felt insecure.  Wearing her dress helped me feel close to her—helped me draw strength from her.

Mother’s dress still hangs in my closet—a gentle reminder of a life well-lived and a heart that is bonded with mine.  Whenever I need her, I can slip into her dress and think of her.  I can wear the sparkly jacket and remember. 

I’ve never needed sparkle in my life, never craved it like Mom.  Maybe she was all the sparkle I needed.

Linda Garner





Vicki Rocho said...

What a beautiful tribute! You made me cry. :)

deby said...

thank you for your beautiful words during a time of sorrow. So touched my heart.