When my sister was here this weekend, we spent some time going through my closet for clothes she might want to take off me. I’m purging as part of the packing process, and have already gotten rid of a bunch of coats, shirts and pants, but I let her at my shoes (bye bye sexy Steve Maddens with the 4″ stiletto heel and the peep toes, perhaps we’ll meet again). I showed her my collection of dresses, including the 8 new ones I’d recently acquired on a Ross shopping trip in Vegas last month.
Two of which were polka-dotted. Adding to the other polka-dot dresses that I already own.
“Polka-dots remind me of Nanny,” Stacy said as I showed her a beautifully delicate ruffled polka-dot wrap dress with cap sleeves.
Me too, I realized, as I dressed for work this morning.
My grandmother Clara loved polka-dots and she loved dresses. It was very rare for me to see her wearing pants in fact, skirts and a sweater were as casual as she got. More often than not, it was a dress she wore.
A few weeks ago, I ran into an acquaintance at work. “You’re wearing pants!” She said, shocked. I was, I agreed, and realized, like my Nanny, how rare that was. I’ve become the dress girl in the office, and the more I think about it, the more I’m realizing it’s my grandmother’s legacy.
It’s a legacy that I’ve been embracing, especially in the past year or so.
I come from a family of strong women. My great-grandmother left an abusive husband in the early 1900s, when my grandmother was just a baby. My grandmother raised 8 children in a small fishing village in Newfoundland, and lost her husband at a young age.
My own mother was a Navy wife, and had five children. One of my favorite stories that my mother has told me only recently is how I first met my father on a navy dock in Halifax when I was 3 months old. She’s a strong woman, my mother, and still is.
The past year for me has been a difficult one. Taylor and I decided to split, after 9 years of marriage. Yesterday, in fact, would have been our 10 year anniversary. We sold our home; the house I realized I loved only after I lost it. I found and rented my own place, and moved myself and Clara into it in early September. For the first time in my life, I was living on my own. Then, earlier this year, I applied for and was approved for a mortgage. I bought a condo. I met with a contractor yesterday to discuss renovations. I’m picking out paint colors, and booking moving trucks.
I’ve grown up.
And through it all, I’m wearing delicate, ruffled dresses, some with polka-dots, some not. My grandmother’s legacy.
Through it all, I’m reminded why I do everything that I do – for my own daughter, who I’m trying to raise to be like the women that came before her. To be strong, and independent, carefree and forthcoming.
And a girl that loves dresses too.
“I want to wear a dress like you, Mama,” she says to me so many mornings, and I’m happy to oblige her. We leave the house those mornings, hand in hand, our dresses swirling around our legs.
It’s sunny here today, so so sunny, and warm enough that I braved bare legs.
No more tights, not for this girl; winter is over, a new season has begun.
New dresses, whimsical and delicate and girlish. Polka-dots, as a nod to my grandmother, for her strength and grace.