Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Wedding Dress & Silk Flowers


A Wedding Dress & Silk flowers

What’s in this box? I lifted the box off the corner shelf where it had been stored away in a back bedroom for close to fourteen years. "Wwwhh!" The dust particles scattered as I blew on its lid. Grabbing an old cloth diaper as a duster (remember those?) I made a swipe across the lid, and then I opened the box. Ohhhh! I didn’t know I still have these! White silk roses, burgundy roses, white netting, rose-tipped edges on some of the pink-tinged buds, pink ribbon, all looking delicate in the box as they lay scrunched together still looking new. Wow, they’re still pretty. Oh, Mother, you worked so hard making them for my wedding day. I was twenty-five, teaching in a Christian school, a very busy time for me. The wedding was during Christmas Break, just two days after Christmas. It was an evening wedding at 7:00 p.m.. Votive candles lined the tall windows. Ferns in two large white wicker baskets up in front. Candelabras in shining beauty glowed a soft light. These were the adornments of the wedding; both simple and elegant. A unity candle was lit by the two of us as we promised to be one. My sweet mother had hand-made all the silk flowers, the flowers my bridesmaids carried, boutonnieres for the groomsmen, and to garnish the candle lighter's wrist. Thank you, mother, they were so lovely.
My wonderful mother and me.

Oh my, there's my wedding dress! Let’s see how it looks.  Sliding the closet door aside, I gathered the dress draped between two hangers, it was well ensconced in a dusty plastic covering. In all these years, my wedding dress had never been professionally cleaned or packaged since the night I wore it that one time thirty-two years ago, although my daughter once wore it for a mother's luncheon. Seeing the dress hanging in the closet made me smile. Such happy thoughts. My mother had offered to sew my wedding gown if I wanted her to. Yes. Perfect. I was eager to let her. We went to the yardage store to pick out a pattern and fabric. I already knew what I wanted. Something that would drape gracefully to the floor with a train that would follow me. As we looked around, I saw it. I loved it. It was a pleated fringe. I could picture it, the trim sewn to the skirt’s bottom edge, flowing out behind me as I walked, moving like froth on an ocean wave as it breaks and ebbs and flows while it spreads out on the shoreline.  Sheer fabric was chosen to grace the bodice and sleeves. Finding the perfect sheer fabric was a bit challenging, not too thick, not too thin, not too white, not too limp. After much considering, it all came together.

Moments before I began my new life!
The next step was designing the wedding dress. We did this by combining a couple of dress patterns to get the look I wanted. Measurements were taken, pieces were fitted and pinned, adjustments to the pattern were made, alterations to the pattern commenced. Finally, the pattern was ready. Mother attached  part of the pattern to the fabric which lay flat on the cutting board on the dining room table. Then she began to cut out the pieces. I helped her as we moved the fabric in place, pinned and snipped. The sheer length of the pieces making it a challenge. One doesn't want to make a mistake and have it cost you. It was a big project and I was nervous that it might not turn out right. Over the next few days, my uncomplaining, hard-working Mother spent hours on sewing my wedding dress. She is a skilled seamstress and had been sewing our clothes since babyhood. But this was different. A woman always wants to look her very best (and her very prettiest) on her wedding day. I was no exception. I shouldn't have worried. Mother sewed the dress perfectly. It fit me beautifully, form fitting, not too tight and not too loose. I was like a princess every time I put it on for a fitting, seeing its train trailing out behind me was especially sweet.The pleated trim set the gown off.

My wedding gown was daintily lovely. It was not as fancy as a store-bought gown but every bit as nice; cleverly crafted and carefully stitched by my mother’s love for her daughter. There were also bridesmaids’ floor-length ensembles being sewn and a similar candle lighter’s dress. I was not as skilled as Mother on the sewing machine which made me exceedingly grateful for her efforts. The wedding went off without a hitch. The music was provided by my sister and cousin. The bridesmaids walked down the aisle to "Nadia's Theme," played on the piano and guitar before The Wedding March began on the organ. "Longer Than" was sung by my cousin and sister, giving me goosebumps. It was so perfect. Before the wedding concluded, my sisters, cousin, and sister-in-law sang in a-capella the song, "Father, we adore you." As the girls sang the round, their voices hung in the air like one hears in a cathedral, filling the large 60's cavernous church sanctuary like an ethereal Amen blessing on the ceremony. 
A perfect wedding!

The wedding reception was from a different era. We ate zucchini bread and banana bread, almonds and Shubert’s mints. (love Chico’s Shubert’s mints!) Guess who made the nut-breads? Yes. My mother did. Mother even sewed a fluffy floor-length negligee’ for me to take on the honeymoon, a creamy, pink, chiffon dream of fringed gown and coverlet. Hers was the most feminine of the cutesy things I took with me. It is still beautiful, folded tidily away in a little white box with tissue paper covering it. It is one of those things I can’t quite throw out even after all these years although it is old and musty, I came across it in my cleaning in another box of keepsakes. Sentimental memories.

I sighed. It had been lovely remembering. I put the silk flowers away in their box, the dress returned to its place in the plastic sheath. I sighed again. The wedding was long ago. The marriage hadn't lasted for forever, but there had been good times and I had learned how to love deeply in the two decades that we had shared as husband and wife. The marriage had given me gifts in its own way. Long ago were the events of that wedding day. Warm fuzzies were tingling inside of me as I viewed these happy "treasures" from times past. Christian marriage is something I highly esteem and have held dear. The young woman who wore that gown has grown and matured but she still honors the traditions that were instilled in her by her earthly parents. Love still speaks to me as I hold those things from my mother, she labored over for me; that she made exactly how I wanted them to be. I still think they are beautiful. Mother wanted to please me, and she was good at it! 

Sometimes I wonder why I have been so lucky? My parents have been good to me, better than good, the best. Time and time again they are kind, helpful, generous, loving, and faithful. I know without a doubt that they will come through when I need them, or when they say that they will do something, they always will do it. Just yesterday I was talking on the phone with my mother; when the conversation ended she said, “I love you,” and I said, "I love you," in return. In recent years my mother has become more comfortable with speaking those words to me. They used to be written in her cards or in the closing of letters but rarely spoken. Now she says them to me. And it means a lot. Yet, I know her love has always been there. I have always known she would do anything for me if it was in her power to do so. That’s great love. It is precious. More precious than gold.  
Thank you, Mother. I love you. 

The silk flowers I found in a plastic sheath in a shoe box.

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