A Twice Blessed Dress

   
 

This is a blessing-saturated story.

It is a story of a search for the perfect dress, of joyous overlapping friendships, of mothers, daughters and sisters, of a dress twice blessed by a beautiful woman wearing it, of the smack down cancer got, and how Facebook facilitated the fine exchange.

The story begins one year ago when Katie became engaged. There are two major decisions after a ring finds its home on the bride-to-be’s finger: the date and the dress. Katie’s wedding required an abundance of dresses. Each one reveals a story: Katie’s splendid wedding dress that Jan, Katie’s mom, insisted on buying.  Jan’s elegant mother-of-the-bride dress that Katie and her sister Abbey spotted, loved and made Jan try on. My ruched bridesmatron’s dress that Abbey found.  The eight unique flower girl dresses that Abbey sewed. (See these wonderfully whimsical dresses at Katie and Jeff’s Wedding Journal).

In California another family was anticipating a wedding.  Two sisters, Jean and Joy, were searching for the perfect dress for Ernestene, their mom, to wear to Laura’s (Jean’s daughter) May wedding.  When Curt and I began our married life in 1978, Amos, Ernestene, Jean and Joy were family to us; their home was our home-away-from-home.  They fed us dinner at least once a week; we shared holidays; we were companions.  I can still hear the laughter that rebounded around their table.

Amos and Ernestene’s golden wedding anniversary in December was tarnished by a serious cancer diagnosis.  A lifetime of love, care, and compassion which Ernestene had cheerfully dispensed returned to her in effusive expressions of love and concern.  Chemotherapy, however, was nastifying Ernestene’s life, making the basics like eating and drinking a challenge. “We just give her a variety of things to dislike.” 

Chemotherapy kept Ernestene from shopping.  Finding a dress meant finding hope, hope that joy and beauty lurked beyond this dire moment. Even a woman like Ernestene, who has cheerfulness woven into her DNA, who as a sick patient concerns herself with how her nurses are doing, needs occasional infusions of good cheer. When Joy saw Katie’s wedding pictures on my Facebook page, she noticed Jan’s elegant dress.

And so began a fabulous correspondence through Facebook messages. 

I copy and pasted like crazy.  Joy asked the label of Jan’s suit; I sent it to Katie. Katie replied Jessica Howard including further details; I messaged Joy.  Joy: “Carol, I’ve looked and can’t find THAT dress… crazy idea, but potentially the best…would Katie’s mom tell us the size and be willing to sell or rent it to mom if it is a fit?”  Some of Joy’s messages were written from the hospital by Ernestene’s bed.

It was a fit!  Less than a month after first message, Ernestene had a dress hanging in her closet for her granddaughter’s wedding. Sweet relief! Jan had been wondering how long to keep a dress she didn’t expect to wear again and was glad to send it to Ernestene.      

When I saw the picture of Amos and Ernestene, two strong towers in our formative years, walking down the path to Laura’s wedding, I wept. 

Don’t both women–who look alike and whose hallmark is kindness–look radiant in that Jessica Howard suit? 

It’s true that Facebook devours time, immobilizes people, and can keep us from partaking of the succulent bits of life.  But in times of distress, Facebook can disseminate information to people everywhere.  It allows friends to share pictures of their kids and grandkids. And it can bring blessings in the form of a dress.

My search for a mother of the groom dress
The dress I wore
A dress I wore the day I got married

Because I love weddings:

All I ever wanted was a Cinderella dress and Gerbera daisies.

She wore cowboy boots under her grandma’s wedding dress
Flower girls flinging flowers
I particularly liked Queen Elizabeth’s canary suit for the royal wedding
The defining moment of Jon and Lindsey’s wedding
The most courageous wedding picture ever taken…before the ceremony
An extraordinary lover’s knot in a wedding
Jackie came down the aisle to Non Nobis