Heavenly Mom Strikes Again
About four years ago, two smart and sexy grandmas decided to fix up their grandchildren. Last spring, in the midst of Covid, the efforts of my mom and her dear friend were finally rewarded in an engagement. Though we're deeply saddened Mom won't physically be with us in November when our oldest son will marry the girl of his dreams, her spirit continues to move in mysterious ways.
Contrary to most normal mothers of the groom, my biggest challenge in preparation for the wedding has been finding a dress. I haven't even worn a dress or skirt, since our younger son's Bar Mitzvah 17 years ago. My go-to attire for special events in anywhere from 20 to 90 degree weather has been a dressy blazer and pants. Not only is this pantsuit perfectly paired with practical shoes, but it's forgiving of figure flaws.
Nevertheless, I decided to leave my comfort zone for this momentous occasion by exploring the world of formal dress shopping. After several failed online attempts, I was shocked to find that even the racks in the downtown department stores were sparse.. A sales associate explained that manufacturers cut down on their merchandise, as they anticipated a huge decline in formal events due to Covid.
I felt hopeful when I found a lovely long lace gown at a local dress shop. But it needed a higher neckline and long sleeves to cover the egg shaped fistula on my arm from past dialysis treatments.
Since the owner was out of town, I called her a few days later to discuss the price of the alterations. Then she contacted the dress designer, and got back to me right away. It seemed like a fairly reasonable price, but I wanted another opinion on the dress. So my best friend graciously offered to meet me at the dress shop.
When we introduced ourselves to the owner, I never thought we'd become intimately acquainted. She barged into the fitting room while I was trying on the dress, and adamantly ignored my objections by stating, "That's what we do here."
This brought back memories of my first bra fitting, followed by the fifth grade class pushing me into the girls bathroom for a closer look under my see-thru peasant blouse. I think several of the boys lined up too, and there was some grabbing involved, but the teacher didn't seem to mind. Of course, I really wasn't ready for a bra at 10. This was confirmed the following summer when I was wearing a t-shirt at the pool, and the waitress said, "Your lunch order's ready, young man."
Meanwhile, back at the dress shop…I was relieved when my dear friend also liked the dress on me. The next step was for the owner to have the designer send me some sketches of how the dress would look with long sleeves and a higher neckline.
Before the sketches were sent, the owner said she’d contact the designer to find out the price. Though I tried reminding her that she had already quoted me a price, she adamantly denied it, and reiterated the tremendous amount of work it would take to design a custom fitted dress in two to three months.
I soon realized there was no point in continuing to reason with her, because the owner was clearly trying to pull a fast one on me. I played along knowing full well she was going to hike up the price, while I continued to look for another dress on the down low.
Just months before the big event, the Dress Nazi finally got back to me. When I heard the price was more than double her original quote, I began to wonder what else she was lying about. Would there be other hidden fees and more importantly would the dress even be ready in time for the wedding?
It was time to call in The Fixer. Though I had lost touch with my dear, stylish childhood friend, he always had great instincts and never folded under pressure. No, he didn't offer to rub out the Dress Nazi, but I'll always be grateful for what he did instead.
I recognized the name of the seasoned downtown dress designer, because my fabulous future daughter-in-law found her lovely wedding gown there. However, it wasn't until The Fixer explained that the designer previously had a dress shop in the suburbs, that I remembered my mom singing her praises. But I drew a blank on the details.
Coincidentally, my best friend, The Fixer, and I all grew up on the same street, and the three of us were off to see The Dress Wizard. I found a dress immediately. and the designer had excellent ideas about raising the neckline and adding long sleeves. She also accompanied me into the fitting room, but in a much kinder and gentler way.
Even the pattern designer who took my measurements seemed to have been skilled in psychiatric training, as I stood in my bloomers pleading, "Do you mind doing this blindfolded?"
Memories flashed before my eyes like the time my late doctor introduced me to a nurse by saying, "She's not fat, it's her liver."
Fortunately, my friends were in agreement that this dress was "the one," and my husband also signed off on the text photo. Then The Fixer suggested I wear one of my mom's classic brooches to complement the dress, so I could hold her close to my heart at the wedding. Just thinking about it still moves me to tears.
Then it hit me. I showed the delightful designer a photo of the dress Mom wore to my wedding 34 years ago. Without skipping a beat, she remembered designing the one of a kind Oscar worthy creation for my beautiful mom. If there were ever a sign that I chose the right dress, this was it.
(with my brother, grandma, and mom in June 1987)