My mom, one of five sisters who grew up on a dairy farm in rural North Dakota, has one studio picture taken of her during childhood. She was three years old. The picture is in black and white, a little grainy in the charming way that old photos are, with my mom sitting in the center of the frame. She is smiling, big, with curls framing her face. The dress she’s wearing is a special one – as dresses were back then. I believe that it is handmade; it certainly has no label on the inside. It is detailed with lace and trim and beautifully delicate buttons – the kind that you don’t see anymore- white with little diamond-like jewels on the inside. I don’t know if it belonged to her three older sisters before her, or if her younger sister wore it in a similar photo after her. Regardless, the dress was packed away in her cedar chest.
Several months ago – maybe close to a year ago now? – my mom sent it back to NC with me hoping that we might one day get a photo of Eleanor in the dress too. She had wanted to have a picture of me in it at three years old, but for some reason it never happened.
Since bringing it back to NC, the dress has hung, neatly on a hanger, on the outside of the closet door in Eleanor’s room. I wanted it to be something that she was familiar and comfortable with in the hopes that she would be more likely to put it on one day (the mere fact that I might suggest she do this is enough to draw an obstinate NO these days). For months it hung, with not so much as a single request.
Until last weekend, when she came down stairs requesting to put on the dress. She wore it all day long. Grandma will be tickled.
(and later that day, out running errands…)