My parents' van pulls around the corner of our long drive, and I laughingly tell husband my mother is trying to rid her house of me. This is just one more trip, one more box of a past she wants me to carry forward, to collect dust in my house, not hers.
This divesting herself of everything "mine"--I unconsciously fight against it, not because I don't understand it but because of the finality of it all. My brother doesn't have this problem. Whereas his room looks virtually the same as when he left home for a career in the military, mine looks nothing like the eggplant-purple-carpeted room I played and studied in from kindergarten through graduate school.
Within a year of my getting married, my mother had moved out the bed, ripped up the carpeting, added wood plank flooring, and converted the space into her sewing room. All my "stuff" was tucked away in boxes, then stuffed in closets, under beds, and other assorted hiding places throughout the house. I've never asked, but perhaps that was her way of emphasizing to me that marriage was a forever thing--no turning back.
Since husband and I moved last July into our "new" home with its own attic, she's constantly been encouraging me to relocate all remaining vestiges of my pre-married life. When I don't respond to that prompting, she sometimes brings out boxes for me to "go through" or even delivers whatever it is to my doorstep.
This visit, it is my wedding dress.
My daddy set the huge box in the downstairs foyer before going to help husband diagnose the problem with the back porch swing. And there it sat for a whole week filled with sickness, grass-watering marathons, and random growth-spurt-defiance-craziness.
Surprisingly, nobody asked about the huge box. Once, I found a few Little People animals lined up across its top, but other than a cow, a chicken, and a horse, nobody stood on it, sat on it, or attempted to open it. It was just there.
Last night, I called the children together to see, me carefully unwrapping the memory from its mummy-like cloth.
My oldest son was the only one who appreciated the dress, itself: "It's be-au-ti-ful," Wyatt squealed, followed by "Why is it in that big box?"
Husband descended the stairs and peeked in, too, adding, "I wondered what was in there."
I tried to tell them of the lace butterflies I beaded by hand and sewed on the train and shoes, but nobody heard.
I'd love to tell them the story of finding the dress on clearance when the store Parisian was eliminating its bridal department. I'd love to tell them of stepping into this one dress and knowing it was the one...of convincing my mother to spend a couple hundred dollars on the first wedding dress I'd ever tried on, the veil, and the shoes--even though I was years away from an engagement ring.
One day, they'll listen. But for now, they're more interested in the veil...something even the boys want to try on.The sight of two boys' heads encircled with beaded tiara and tulle netting only deepens those laugh lines around my eyes.
Then, there's Amelia. The vision of her in all white, saying her forever vows to the man God has sent her--it elicits more of a sad smile.
Too soon, too soon, I'll be the one delivering boxes of her childhood memories to her house.
As she smiles for the camera, I call her daddy.
"Maybe in 35 years," he says matter-of-factly, and marches three sets of small feet upstairs for bed.