Sunday, April 18, 2010
The Little Blue Dress
Once upon a time there was a pretty young girl, age 14 or so, and a handsome slightly older soldier. The pretty girl was from a large French Canadian Catholic family and the handsome soldier had a similarly large Irish Catholic family. She lived near the soldier's sister, Bunny, and would often babysit Bunny's babies. The babes loved her. Bunny loved her. And the soldier soon loved her. It was easy. Terry had that rare blend of kindness and terrific assertiveness, something you had to respect. She would bring the colored soaps for the babes to finger paint the shower wall while she bathed them. She would also beat all of my brothers and husband at tennis. She was a pro, an actual tennis pro, at a very young age.
Life went on and Terry and Billy eventually married and settled in to raise a family. This was extremely difficult and she had many losses a couple late in her second trimester. After 7 years of trying she and Billy finally had a teensy weensy baby girl, born way to early, and in lots of peril. I remember Billy taking a picture of Lainey, the baby, in a shoe box of Terry's. There would be no more children after Lainey. Lainey grew and the need for a more substantial home became pressing. The only way they could afford the home they wanted was to have an in law apartment. My parents had just retired and they asked my mom, Mimi, and Poppa to move into an in law apartment and watch Lainey while Terry worked to cover the mortgage. Mimi and Poppa were thrilled.
Terry became Mimi's best friend. Everyday after work they would share a game of Scrabble and either a coffee or a shot of brandy. They became very close. It was an ideal set up and I can honestly say I have never seen in laws get along like this, never mind become best friends. Terry was my friend too. She was always the athlete and never wore a skirt or dress except for her wedding, really. For her own parent's wedding anniversary she asked me to make her a black velvet suit and to make Lainey a black velvet dress, anything I wanted to. I was honored and thrilled. She looked gorgeous in her pretty suit. She had great legs no one had ever seen except on the tennis court. I can honestly say Lainey's dress was without a doubt the most beautiful child's garment I have ever made, to this day. It was a swirl of jewel colored ribbons and black velvet and Lainey and Terry loved it.
Life was good, family picnics, celebrations, friendships. One night Terry went in the kitchen after the dinner dishes were done and grabbed a beer from the fridge. Before she could pop it open she dropped to the floor in a brief seizure and died almost instantly, in front of Billy, from an aneurism. From that moment on, nothing was the same for any of us, but for Lainey and Billy it would become a nightmare of depression and loneliness and all of the poor decisions that come from such feelings.
Oh, Terry was buried in the black velvet suit, with Lainey's swirley ribbon dress in the coffin with her.
Billy shortly endured a 6 month marriage with someone who cleaned out all of his insurance money and left when there was no more. At one point she cleared out anything in the house, all pictures, clothing, furniture, that had anything to do with Terry. Billy was too lost to even know what was happening. Remember my mom lived in the in law apartment? She trolled thru the garbage and managed to pick out this little blue dress. Terry had saved it from when Lainey was 3 and she was now six. Mimi cleaned it and tucked it away. Terry had told her she was saving it for when Lainey had her own little girl one day. Mimi would save it for Lainey.
Life got better. The despair lifted and things eventually got close to normal. My dad passed away and the house was sold. My mom went into elderly housing. As I helped her pack she gave me the little blue dress and asked that I save it for Lainey. Of course I would. It has been hanging in my sewing room since.
The little blue dress is really not that special other than the sentiment behind it. The sleeves are drafted way too large. The buttons down the back don't all match. The stitching is huge. But it is still pretty. I have always wanted to make another little blue dress, one that would fit more correctly, and be more heirloom sewn. For years I have been on a quest to find this fabric or something similar. I can't tell you how many pieces looked right in the store, but when I got them home they just weren't right. Enter Angel Kristine of Just Keep Sewing.
When I saw Kristine's post on her beautiful daughter's Easter dress I knew that was the fabric. Her daughter's dress was adorable and the fabric pretty near a perfect version of Lainey's little blue dress. E-mails ensued back and forth. Kristine had enough left over for me to make another small dress and was glad to give it up. I have a package on my counter as we speak to go to the Post Office to show my appreciation for her generous offer. The internet is such an amazing thing. You are all my sewing circle. You are my night out with the girls to talk sewing. You are my fellow fanatics who understand my passion. You are my friends. Thanks, Kristine........Bunny