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)