I didn’t recognize it at first—it was white in the pictures, with blue flowers embroidered into the lace. This dress looked as if it had been hung in a pool hall for fifty years. But yes, it had to be the one I was looking for. Sure enough, the lace coverlets were pinned to it, as was the veil and a small box which, upon further inspection, revealed a dessicated flower of some sort—perhaps his boutonnière? Attics are no place to store wedding dresses, especially if the house is old. Although the house was only twenty years old when they bought it, forty-five years had passed since then. Still, I wondered why her dress hadn’t been covered when other insignificant things were–old dresses from the ’60s, shirts from the ’70s, all pretty much worn out. Perhaps if it had been covered, her gown wouldn’t be so dirty now, so faded, so close to being thrown into a dumpster.
I brought it home and tried to hide it from my husband at first. Not the sentimental type, his response was as predicted when the dress was finally discovered hanging in a corner of the guest room : “Why do you want to keep that?” Men, if you have to ask the question, you won’t understand the answer anyway, so just shake your head and chalk it up to the mysterious. That said, I’m not sure I totally understand either. All I know is I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. Every time I look at it I think of her, and miss her, and feel as if I still have a piece of her in my life. Then again, I married a piece of both of them, and shouldn’t that be more than enough?
A stop at the dry cleaners on the way home about knocked my socks off. The guestimate for cleaning/restoring it was $175. Did I dare try to clean it myself? I did! Not a total success, but some Woolite and a trip through the delicate cycle of my front-load washer took a large majority of the grunge away, and what was left of the blue in the flowers peeked through the faded thread. Now it hangs in the hallway until I prepare a place for it next to her husband’s old Navy uniform (that I DID dry clean). Against my husband’s objections (my bad), I brought home an old gun cabinet, and I plan on placing them in there. My sister just finished carving the McCarty crest into the glass door, and it adds a nice touch (my husband likes it, too). Eventually the old Navy scrapbook and the letters from their love story will join the clothing as well. I’ve become the family historian, and I’m okay with that. Someday, though, they will probably have to go.
My wedding dress lies in a box under our bed, cleaned and preserved because that’s what brides are supposed to do, thus ensuring that the problem never goes away, it only gets passed on to the next generation. I don’t think my daughter-in-law is very sentimental, so one day all this stuff will probably have to disappear. For now, though, they are saved. Perhaps someday I’ll have a granddaughter who would like to see something other than pictures from those special days. Maybe she’d even like to try one of them on :)