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A Day with Mom

My memories of time with Mom are jumbled. Playing cards. Waxing floors. Working in vegetable and flower gardens. Learning to sew and cook with Mom at my shoulder. There are a few clear pictures, and one is a day fifty years ago when Mom and I shopped for my wedding dress.

The time and place for our wedding were set. He’d wear a white jacket, with a black bow tie and black pants. I’d wear a long white dress and short veil. His attire would be rented, but Mom would make my dress because the cost of a ready made one was exorbitant. She’d save money and make my dress fit perfectly.

Mom and I planned a shopping trip to Nashville. I’d try on dresses and we’d pick our favorite part of each. Mom carried a drawing pad to sketch details: necklines, sleeves, waistlines, skirts, even hemlines. We’d shop at Cain-Sloan, Harvey’s, and a Church Street bridal store. We’d eat a late lunch at the B&W cafeteria, and agree on the dress style and fabric. Our goal was to come home with a drawing, a pattern, and fabric.

First stop was Cain-Sloan. After choosing a few dresses, we were led to the dressing room. The only problem was getting the sales clerk out of the room so Mom could draw and make notes. We probably hurt her feelings, but she left us alone.

I put on a dress that we’d chosen for its silk organza sleeves and overlay skirt, both with wide tucks. While standing on a circle platform surrounded by mirrors, I felt like a princess. The dress fit well and the sleeves and skirt and lace bodice were beautiful, but I wished it didn’t have a high neckline. Mom said she could make a jewel neckline, and we’d need to find the lace for the front bodice.

I tried on other dresses; none compared to the one with tucks. I put the dress on again and loved it – even the neckline was okay. Mom handed rejected dresses to the sales clerk who then came into the dressing room and, of course, oohed and aahed that this was my perfect dress. Mom asked the price. $160. The dress was discounted because it had make-up smudges on the neckline. But $160 was a lot of money in 1969.

Left alone again, Mom and I discussed that she could make fewer tucks and change the neckline. I didn’t want to take the dress off. Then Mom shocked me. “Maybe we could buy this dress, “ she said. If she’d turned somersaults in the middle of the store, I wouldn’t have been as surprised.

Mom paid for my dress with two $100 bills, and she had more in her billfold. Only then did I realize that she had hoped to buy a dress, and not fabric. We did buy tulle and lace for a veil, and our shopping was finished.

This day is my one of my fondest memories of time with Mom. I hold it close to celebrate Mother’s Day.

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