Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Prettiest Dress I've Ever Made



Terry met my brother Bill after he did a stint in the Armed Forces. Luck brought him to Germany when it could have sent him to Da Nang. He came home, wasn't sure of the direction he was headed, and took a job at a hospital not far from the house. Terry, her mom and her sister all worked at the hospital. She was 14. You could do that back then. If you knew the right person, you could work before the age of sixteen. Nobody told and Terry was a very hard worker.  Bill and Terry quickly became good friends and eventually fiances. They married, moved away and Terry simultaneously worked on her degree and getting pregnant. Seven was her lucky number and that pregnancy didn't fail like the other six. She and Bill were blessed with a 2 1/2 pound baby girl who grew to be cherished by both. They had no other children as it wasn't in their cards and Terry was just too drained to try any more. They were content with their beautiful baby girl. She was so tiny and so loved when she entered this world.

Life went on. They bought their own home. Terry graduated. Bill moved up the corporate ladder and the baby thrived. Our large family watched. They were the best of best friends. You could just see that long happy road ahead and the type of relationship whose complimentary strengths could weather anything. One night, just after putting their six year old to bed, Terry popped open a beer can. Before she could snap it all the way back Bill looked up and saw her collapse on the floor. She was instantly gone from a massive aneurism at the age of 32. Life changed,  for Bill, their little girl and our entire close knit family. The Thanksgiving dinners at their house stopped. The annual summer clambakes went away. Life had its way of happening  and all was changed forever.

A bit about Terry...she was a professional level tennis player. She would murder any and all of my six brothers out on the court. But they loved her and loved sparring with her. She was the most competitive person I have ever known  and on that court, there was no mercy. She was also the kindest person I have ever met. Terry was very pretty, athletic, smart and ever so kind. She also never wore a skirt in her life, other than her wedding gown. One day she started planning her parents anniversary party. It was to be a big fancy affair. She gave me the ultimate compliment. She asked me to make her a black velvet suit. It's jacket would have scallops along the center front and hem. The skirt would be a simple knee length A line. Terry did nothing fussy. I was so honored and took a while to absorb that I would make the only skirt any of us had ever seen her wear. This had to be gorgeous. And while I was at it could I make something black velvet but little girlish for her daughter to wear to the festivities too? I was on this like white on rice.


Terry's suit fit her lovely figure just right and I was so proud to see it on her. But her daughter's dress, now that was special. It was the same black velvet as the suit. There was a simple bodice with a back placket and raised waistline. The sleeves were quite full and long. There was no collar to detract from  the embellishment. I had seen the most special child's dress in Sew News, back in the day when it was a newspaper. The bodice had random widths and lengths of bright colored ribbons, silks and grosgrains,  woven across the front. They released at the waist into a hypnotic swirl of color that any little girls would proudly twirl. Against the black velvet, it was breathtaking and Terry was thrilled her angel would have such a special dress. The big event came and went. It was a night that would be remembered many times in the years to come and the two of them were so beautiful that night. Life settled back in. About three weeks later Terry passed away. She is buried in that black suit and her angel's ribbon bedecked dress is tucked right next to her. It is still and always will be the prettiest thing I have ever made...................Bunny


( As you can imagine, this post has been simmering for years as I often think of our dear Terry. As you probably know, bouts of purging/cleaning can unearth hidden treasures that trigger deeply felt memories. I came across this yellowing Sew News page that was folded and tucked away with all the other accumulations. It was time to write. I dedicate this to all of you who have a star missing in your universe. Thank you for letting me share this with you all.....Bunny)

47 comments:

  1. What a tragic, yet beautiful story. I can imagine you making the most gorgeous pillow or bag reminiscent of the little angel's dress as a gift for her or an ongoing reminder to you of those long-ago days.

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    1. That's a lovely idea, Charade. Thank you for that thought. I will keep that in mind.

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  2. Wow! My blessings to you. Terry must have really appreciated the love and care you put into those garments. This is where sewing gets deep. Thank you for such an emotional post.

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  3. Thanks for sharing that sad, lovely story.

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  4. What a stunningly beautiful and sad story. You've bought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing, and reminding me to go and give my little girls a cuddle (who were previously driving my batty on this grey, cooped up Winter day).

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    1. Glad I reminded you. Thanks for reading.

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  5. Thank you for writing this lovely story.

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  6. Oh so sad to lose such a special person so young, the velvet suit and dress sound divine. What a beautiful story

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    1. Yes, she went far too soon. There is something about losing a young person tragically that changes the family dynamic so suddenly and permanently. I don't think my family ever got over this loss. I know they haven't. We just move on and do our best.

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  7. Bunny, thank you for sharing this. It's so heartfelt, I'm sorry for your loss. Not long ago, I was digging in a sewing drawer or box and found a letter my mom had written me years ago. It was just like having her standing next to me. Little treasures.

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    1. Definitely a treasure. Thanks, Kristine.

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  8. Thank you for this - I have tears in my eyes as I type. I lost my guiding star, my husband, in October. The void is huge. Although my situation is not the same as yours, your touching and profound words resonate loudly with me.
    Cherish life.

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    1. I am so sorry for your loss. Your last sentence says it all.

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  9. Thank you for sharing this story-and honoring your sister-in-law's memory. What a bittersweet memory!

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    1. Thank you for listening. It's amazing how finding that paper triggeres do much feeling.

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  10. Beautiful and heart-breaking....

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  11. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful memory with us!

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  12. What a lovely testament to your sister! Though it must have been a difficult post to write, your kind words are comforting and very appreciated. xoxo

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    1. It is one that has been simmering for years. I am glad you enjoyed reading a bit about my family.

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  13. Even in death and sorrow, there is beauty. Thank you.

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  14. A moving, heart breaking story. So much love and sorrow intertwined in our stitches. Thank you for sharing.

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  15. Sending love. . Beautiful Tribute. / hugs from a daughter who lost her momma @37 .. blood clot.. gone in minutes. .. found you by accident tonight.. looking for smocking tutorials. . XooX mo

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    1. wow..there are no coincidences Mona...you were meant to find this site!

      awesome tribute, Bunny

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  16. Thank you for sharing this deep memory, Bunny. I too have tears in my eyes but feel that by sharing this with others who have a sewing connection, we can all sympathize and realize that life is so short and precious. I also hope that her daughter, your niece has grown into a lovely strong woman like her mom. Blessings and comfort to you.

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    1. She has and her Dad is so proud. She is expecting her first baby next fall. The circle of life continues. She is a beautiful young woman.

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  17. With tears in my eyes, I write. It is in those places where we least expect, we find the things that bring us to our knees. What a beautiful post. I see from one of your replies the daughter is doing well and expecting!

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    1. Yes, she married a wonderful young man.

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  18. Oh Bunny, what a sad but very sweet story. It brought a tear to my eye and confirms what I've always said; sewists are the dearest people. Thanks for sharing this with us. Linda Snyder

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  19. Oh dearest Bunny, tears flowing all around the world today, after reading your touching memories. It is such a personal post and I am sure that many of us are sending virtual hugs your way.
    Thank you so much for sharing this with your sewingsista's. Much love.xx

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  20. would you happen to have a photo of these two and their treasured outfits?

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    1. I don't but I think somewhere her mom who is pushing 90 might some where. One of the odd things about Terry, there are very very few pictures of her. She was the family Social Director and Photographer. At any family outing she was the one with the camera in her hand at all times, capturing those candids. Sadly we got to rely on her for photos of events. Little did we realize she was rarely in them until she was gone. And the few that were left were tossed by wife number two when my brother was away on business. That was a heartbreaking discovery for all. That marriage lasted months.

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    2. Dang, you made me tear up at work...I'll put the chronic eye-strain redness I usually have to use as a cover. Sweet, sad story, made sadder by the bit on wife #2 tossing the pictures. It's good she is out of your brother's and niece's life.

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  21. What a beautiful story, and how wonderful it is that you have those memories to share. You are as talented a story-teller as sewist.
    When I read the title of this post, i thought, wow, this must be quite some dress, because I've seen photos of oh, so many absolutely exquisite dresses that you've made over the years for one lucky little girl or another. And yes, your description of this dress does sound like "quite some dress." Those ribbons on the black velvet sound just gorgeous, and something a little girl - or even not-so-little - would feel so special wearing. Thank you so much for this post.

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  22. Beautiful story. Very sad too.

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  23. What a well written story, Bunny. She sounds like a wonderful woman, wife and mother. I can't imagine the emotions as you remembered her for this post. I think we make peace when we suffer that type of loss, but the hole in our hearts is never quite filled. She certainly left some fond memories for her family. Wouldn't the world be so much better with more like her? Thank you for sharing this with us.

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