The image is of the suit in question, with the alterations receipt.
My Grandmother wore a gray blue suit for her wedding. I have it now, folded in tissue paper, stored in her cedar chest, which I also have. Her and my grandfather, neighbors and friends since their youth, got married while he was on a short leave from the Navy in 1944. She and I never talked about sex, but judging from some of the love letters I found from him to her while he was away, I’m guessing she was no virginal bride. I’m so happy to know this about her.
After they married, she worked in a munitions depot, driving 30 miles each way in an old, unheated Studebaker, to help make ends meet. She had chickens and a huge garden, bordered by yellow rose bushes and towering lilacs. I have planted her peonies in front of my house, I hope they’ll finally bloom this spring. When they do, I will probably cry.
She always dressed to the nines and made most of her own clothes. Her bags and shoes matched each other and her coat. Even though she didn’t have much, she managed to make everything look classy. Her hair was always styled in lovely waves, until she could no longer care for it herself.
Every Easter, my sister and I would receive matching dresses made by her. I fiercely regret not appreciating them at the time as I should have. It was the 80s and homemade clothes were not cool enough for bratty little me. However, she did teach me to sew, and those memories were fond for both of us, I think. That’s something. Many hours preparing for 4-H Dress Review were spent in her den.
She also taught me how to make origami boxes out of old Christmas cards. I spent long winter afternoons at her table creating boxes in all kinds of sizes. Cutting through the “Happy Holidays” and blue-ink signatures from her distant friends and relatives so I could make the center of the box land just right on a pretty ornament or glittered snowflake.
When I was a teenager, we’d play cribbage and I’d spend hours talking to her about my problems and my friends’ problems and she always listened and never judged. I imagine all my little dramas about who liked whom and who was mad at whom couldn’t have been that interesting, but she never let on.
She was independent and fierce and hated asking for help. My parents visited one day to find her up on her roof repairing shingles when she was in her 70s. She was an avid “Letter to the Editor” writer and was passionate about supporting causes she believed in. She was intensely loyal to those she loved.
Her long decline from Alzheimer’s was sad and painful and horrible to watch. I came home one spring, right after college, and visited her in the nursing home with my mom and sister. We kept it together while we held her hand and smiled with her. She couldn’t really talk much, and no longer recognized us at all, but seemed content to have us there. When we left though, and got to the parking lot, I burst into tears and just stood there hugging my sister and mom. The change was so drastic from the last time I’d seen her. It’s like we lost her tiny bit by tiny bit over the course of many years.
I often wish I could talk to her now. Ask her opinion on things. Discuss her past more seriously. See what she cared about, hear her stories. I think, of all the women who made me, she would understand me the most. I think/hope she would be proud of me, living independently, being my own person.
My grandfather passed away when I was very young and even though I know she loved him with all her heart, she showed me I didn’t need a man to be happy. She showed me that I could take care of myself.
For that, and for so many other things, I’m grateful.
Molly’s gorgeous post about her grandmother, mother, and daughter reminded me that Wicked Wednesdays do not necessarily have to follow the prompt, so I’m including this there.