I know the feel of my mother's wedding dress. Her first one that is. As a girl child, I would slip it over my plaited head and feel the scratch of net at my throat, the rippled waves of lace; drop pearls and rainbowed sequins catching beneath my nails as I clawed, vain, at the too tight zip. Bride for an hour, I would gather up the skirt in frothing handfuls, not to altar fall; preen and whirl twirl before the glass. Dressing in my mother's past and my own future. I wonder will my daughter do the same in my ivory and satin empire line? Will I let her play dress-up? Or will I say: "No darling, mummy wants to be buried in her dress. Won't she look pretty in the box? She'll finally get her money's worth anyhow. Here's a cowboy outfit. Wear that instead."
I have seen black and white photos of that special day, my mother's happiness with the groom who did not stick around. Who had to be replaced with something that smiled and was more durable. "You may kiss the bride and make her cry," the priest must have said to this groom who fathered a child and then cavalierly, cancerously died. Job done. But I never knew until today that my mother's bouquet was of golden yellow roses with a white ribbon bow. Now I know, I can smell the yellow from here.
Black and white; the day seems far away. In the hectic pink flush of my mother's cheek; I am there, or at least, the idea of me. My uncle JPEG'd me a colour photo of the day. Double click, double click, open and OK: my parents wedding, 24th August 1963. A windy day. My mother's lace dress with its hooped petticoat, lifted up and hurled against her own proud and sentry mother in a sky blue two piece. Dress and coat with matching "I'm looking for something for my daughter's wedding" daisy petalled hat. "He loves her, he loves her not." He loved her; just not for long enough. And my gran, my gran who liked an orchid, exotic in a clear and plastic box, her orchid was a burgundy. A nice contrast, we all thought, against the blue.
The huddle then, from left to right, my father (now deceased in a dove grey silk tie), his grim faced mother (my other grandmother in a dark blue suit), my sky blue gran and the pink cheeked bride. My mother is the only one to smile. I cannot tell if his mother is trying to smile and just unaccustomed to it. Or whether she is thinking; "This will not end well." A groom then, two widows and a bride. I think he should have guessed how it would end. The way it often ends for men. Dead. And gone. Did I mention he was gone?
Still, I am glad I went to the wedding, stood with them in the breeze awhile, smelled the flowers, admired my gran's hat, the sheen on my first father's tie. I magnified his face to a pixillating blur. A blur the size of a daughter's hand. I know this to be the case. I pressed my hand against his glass face and measured it. Taking it away and looking hard, I thought I saw him smile.
Very moving and evocative. Is it the rain making you so introspective?
This is so beautiful it took my breath away. Thanks!
I find marriage in theory and in reality to be fascinating. I must, I've had three.
Don't we often look at friend/couples and wonder what they see in each other -- what caused them to choose for life (perhaps). The faces on the parents in the pictures -- do they see futures the young couple cannot devine? The first time, my parents were right. I was wrong.
A good marriage is the best of worlds; a bad one is the worst. One that probably was very good and lasted such a brief time, as your Mom and Dad's, is a great loss. Hard to get over, and even harder for you who never knew him but are part of him.
A lovely post, Wifey. So glad you have been able to add color to your black and white memories. And regardless of the occasional reactions of your relatives, thank you for sharing your lovely Mom with us!
So melancholy, wifey. Lovely details and lovingly written.
I wanted to wear my mother's wedding dress when I married, but I was much too large for it at 5'6" and 110 pounds. My mother is tiny but my father is a big man. I bought my own wedding dress thinking my daughter might wear it someday. I kept my prom dresses as well and with the 80s back in style, my daughter has tried them on. She is a petite 5'3", but at 16 is already two cup sizes larger than I was. None of them will zip. Oh well. Maybe a granddaughter . . .
Thank you. Beautifully expressed.
Love to think I could be buried in my wedding dress, but I suspect it will hardly cover a leg, so rapdidly do I grow.
I remember assuring my husband of 19 years, before our wedding that I'd get "loads of wear" out of my wedding dress- cream silk, v neck, dropped waist, silk flowers dotted around it, ankle length.mmm, it's still in the bag! Don't think I'd like to be buried in it, would it seem immature? Would people know it was my wedding dress? Probably! My 2 girls loved dressing up in my bridesmaids dresses, but I never offered them the wedding dress. At 14 and15,I don't think they'd be interested now, unless they could dye it black! Loved your post!
Enjoyed this post. There is no way I would get into my wedding dress now.
A touching posting this. I have been married to my one and only wife for 43 years now. We.ve had our ups and downs and I'm still here.
Forty three years of matrimonial survival.
Your Blog postings keep reminding me of what we went through in the years past.
Beautifully written memories!
I went up to London with my bridesmaid and best friend to get my wedding dress from Marshall and Snelgroves in 1971. It cost a whole £50. Looking back, I can't believe how thoughtless it was of me not to ask my Mum to go with me instead. She must have been really hurt and I am so sorry now, too late.
However, in retaliation she wore a purple turban, dress and jacket to my wedding which clashed magnificently with the bright red bridesmaids dresses. Touche Ma.
I sold my dress for £15 two weeks after the wedding as I knew I'd forever be trying to squeeze back into it and upsetting myself, probably spent the money on groceries.
Your post was lovely and thought provoking, bringing back wedding memories for many of us.
You write beautifully. This made me tearful.
You are a great writer - I was going to make some inane remark but....wait I still am! Have you thought of putting it on Ebay ?- I got £3.20 plus P&P for my Dads ashes...
If anyone would like to tell me what Ibeatrice is up to I would be glad as I have been banned... Fucking story of my life.. I am getting along with someone then I fuck it up somehow... probably accounts for all the divorces...
Beautifully written, in that it is so uniquely put. Thank you for this.
Very nice indeed. I see you are almost as obsessed by the past as I am!
Poignant and poetic, Wife in the North. I have a similar photo of my parents' wedding. I got it in their divorce. Don't think it'll have quite the same effect.
Have taken the liberty of linking to your blog. Hope you are not mortally offended.
We've given you a very cheeky blog award at my site. But there are alot of us who read you religiously and want to be your friend. We won't take it personally if you say no, but won't you give us a try???
My wedding dress went up in flames a few years ago when my parents cottage burnt down. Still, it lasted much, much longer than the marriage. The veil and the shoes survived; they were in their boxes.
I had such a short marriage that I never got around to picking it up from the house that left it on my wedding day.
Advice from my Mum is to keep your shoes in boxes because they're the ones that survive a fire.
Although I think the risk of fire in my flat is negligible (the same level as that in Greenham Common, apparently) I now keep all my shoes in their original boxes.
I had had plans to put together a wedding chest with all that I wore and the orders of service, sugared almonds etc. It was to be kept up in the attic so that future generations would find it and wonder at the fact that their old, long dead aunt had been married once, after all.
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