Fish swim across the woven cotton. Faded whites on a deep aquatic blue. Somehow the dress has moved with me from place to place, year after year, surfacing periodically. I’d almost forgotten about it until now, when my daughter, Adeline, pulls it from the depths of her closet.
“Mom, do you want to keep this?”
I turn to face her, catching sight of the dress.
A small “Oh!” escapes me. Then I gather myself. “I don’t know,” I say. “It seems kinda silly, really. I’ve just been holding onto it for all these years. I don’t think I’ve even worn it.”
“Didn’t your mom make this?” she asked
“Well, does it fit you?”
“I don’t know. I think I tried it on years ago and it was a little tight. I’m not really sure.”
“Try it on,” she urges, handing me the dress.
I take it from her and go to my room, holding it in my hands. Wow. This dress must be around 40 years old. So long ago, my mom’s hands chose this fabric, cut the patterned pieces and stitched the cloth into this final garment. I have a vague memory of her wearing it–tan skin against the batik, a flash of a smile, frosted hair– but I’m not sure if it’s real or imagined.
I slip out of my clothes and pull the dress on over my head, tugging it down to slide over my hips. I look in the mirror, turn to one side and then to the other. It fits snugly through the bodice, but falls loosely from the waist to my ankles, swaying about my legs. It’s a simple cut, timeless.
I return to Addie’s room.
“What do you think?” I ask. Again, I turn from side to side, the full skirt of the dress swishing.
“It’s cute,” she says. “You should keep it.”
I look at my daughter in the midst of her really-moving-out-for-good room cleaning. My daughter who never met the grandmother who created this dress. How interesting that it reappeared today, on the eve of her departure.
Again, I touch the fabric, taking comfort from its soft cotton and from its connection. Past–present–future. Woven together in this moment.
Of course I’m going to keep it.