Wednesday, December 31, 2008
My mother was at her thinnest just before she got married. At 25 years old, she was 5’7” and 125 lbs. She was beautiful and fresh and slender and lovely. Her wedding dress was handmade by her mother complete with over jacket and veil. She was a vision. The picture of her hung in our house for most of my life depicting her in her gown with her veil cascading down her back.
I always wanted to be as lovely as she was in that picture. I wanted to wear her dress and veil and look as beautiful as she did in that picture.
I was 10 years old when I sat with my mother as we looked at her gown that she had kept in Grandma’s closet and admiring the craftsmanship. I was in awe of the veil which had a crown made of an old Javex bottle and covered in the material matching her jacket. I was in awe of the simple A-line dress of ivory. I asked if I could try it on.
I couldn’t get the zipper done up. I was a 5’2”and weighed 125 lbs. I was 10 years old and had outgrown my mother’s wedding dress. And eating disorder starts... now!
I was heartbroken. My romantic dreams of being 25 (ha!) and floating down the aisle in my mother’s dress were shattered. I was just too big. I was already bigger than most of my mother’s friends (ask me about the time I was 12 years old and too fat for the hand me down jeans of a mother of 4.) I accepted I would not be able to wear the dress and I moved on in my dreams for the future.
I spent the next 10 years alternating between deciding never to get married (who wants that?!) and wanting to get married at 18 years old and having 12 children. Finally, in my early twenties, I decided I might as well get married and started my plans. I had a book with all my ideas and wishes that I kept adding to from time to time.
Flash forward to this weekend. The excitement of my engagement has not worn off (at least for me. The sisters keep teasing me that I don’t go 10 minutes without mentioning my ring. They are quite tired of it already!) Grandma spent the afternoon chatting with me about wedding things and mentioned she still had Mom’s dress in the closet. We all scrambled to see it.
There in the top of the closet, in an old hat box, lay Mom’s homemade gown wrapped in a plastic bag. We lifted out the jacket and dress and finally the veil. The Javex bottle has long since cracked and broken, but the veil is as long and beautiful as ever. Grandma asked me if I wanted to use it for my wedding.
I could have cried. Suddenly, I realized I could use it. I would have to remove the headpiece (and Javex bottle!) and replace it with a comb or headband of some sort, but I could make it my own and still have something from my mother’s wedding with me.
I’ve packed up the entire dress now. We figured it might as well be all together. I am not sure what I will do with the rest of it yet. Unless I magically lose most of my body weight (and possibly a limb) I won’t be wearing it, but it is nice to know I get a part of that dream the 10 year old me had dreamed.