Back in the 1950s and 60s every woman yearned to own a mink stole. Watch some of the old TV shows like Perry Mason and every well-dressed woman is wearing mink.
My mother-in-law, Jenny, wanted to give me something special for my 25th birthday, so she offered to buy me a stole. As an animal lover, I was appalled at the thought of murdering countless little creatures, skinning them, and sewing their furry hides together.
Jenny, thinking that I just didn’t like mink, changed her offer to fox…one of my favorite feral animals by the way. So, once again, I said no thank you. The present she finally came up with was, and still is, my favorite evening dress. It’s an original Simonetta and was featured in many newspapers as an example of the designer’s most beautiful creations.
I wore the dress for many years as did both my daughters. Three years ago, I had it freshened and passed it on to my granddaughter-in-law Silvia. Perhaps one day her daughter, Vik, will enjoy wearing her great-grandmother’s favorite dress. Many women wear their mothers’ or even their grandmothers’ wedding gowns. Passing clothing from generation to generation brings the past and the future together in a magically beautiful way. That’s because our clothing becomes imbued with part of ourselves: the scent of our perfume; the warmth of our skin; the happiness we felt when choosing it. Each wedding gown carries with it a history of hope, joy, and love from those who have come before; a connection between those who have lived and those who are living; a solid link in the chain of life.
For that reason I also like browsing through antique stores, looking at things that were once loved and wondering who loved them. Jason and I found a long, low handmade table on one of our outings, which, on the underside, wished happiness to a newly married couple. Someone had taken the time and energy to design, build, and sign this thoughtful wedding present. Who was the talented wood carver? Who were the recipients? Were they still together and, if so, why had they sold this beautifully handmade gift? Questions to ponder. We kept plants on the table for years and it still graces my living room.
Old houses speak to me as well. Solid and dependable they seem to absorb human joys and sadness; laughter resounds within their walls and tears remain embedded in the cracks between their floorboards. All of these sensations are caught up in the space between floor and ceiling so when people leave their essences remain.
If we listen closely, we can hear them whisper encouragement and help us navigate the world in which we live. Too soon their future will become our past, leaving our wraiths to enchant a new and, as we once were, vulnerable generation. Today works better only if we hear the voices of yesterday preparing us for all the tomorrows to come.
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