If you're paying attention one might think I've been scarce this week because I am furiously sewing another Halloween costume. And that is a pretty safe assumption. After all, I've got four children, and I've only shown off three Halloween costumes. Costumes for Meaty, Bird, and Sweet Pea are all safely finished and waiting for the big event tomorrow.
That leaves my beautiful Pork Chop (did I mention that at her Parent Teacher conference the Teacher referred to her as the, and I quote, the "Perfect Child". Of course The Greatest and I think so, but it is always nice to have the opinion shared by someone who is not related to her, but I digress). She needs something to wear tomorrow night. If you recall she let me off the hook for the Halloween party as long as I P.R.O.M.I.S.E.D. to have her costume sewn in time for her class party. But I have not spent the week bent over yards and yards of blue gingham and white cotton (she wanted to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz). It turn out the new principal does not want the children to wear costumes at school tomorrow, not even book inspired costumes.
What's the word for a Halloween Scrooge?
I think this news tempered her enthusiasm about Halloween. And she decided that she did not want to have a new costume made to be worn only trick-or-treating. She wants to save the costume for next year when it can be brand new and worn to the annual party AND trick-or-treating.
As much as I love creating her Halloween costumes I am at peace with this decision. I remember my Mom making my costumes when I was a child. Each year we choose my costume together. She made me the most beautiful cape. It was blue with silver threads running through it, lined with white fabric. I wore it for years, as part of a princess costume, as part of an acrobat costume, as part of a different princess costume (I liked being a princess). I loved that cape. I wonder what became of that cape. I remember the year she taught a costume class at church. She brought me along as her model. I felt so important, not only because I got to be her model and wear so many different costumes, but important to be there as a child observing the mysterious world of adult women. I got to sit in a corner and see my Mom, so beautiful when she laughed, so foreign to me in a role other than Mom. I longed to be her friend and laugh with her too. I wanted to come out of the corner and mingle with grown-ups, but I sat in the corner and watched. Of course then I became a teenager and wanted nothing to do with my Mom. Then I became an adult and apologised to my Mom for being a teenager. And I did get to enter her world as an adult, an equal. And she was still beautiful when she laughed, only I got to laugh with her, and be her friend. She really was the best sort of friend to have. Damn. I miss her.
This tangent is actually going somewhere. Pork Chop decided not to have me make her Dorothy costume after all. I was disappointed. I wonder how she will remember this Halloween. I felt like I was missing a potential memory, my memory of making her dress and seeing her smile with delight when she tried it on, and her memory of Mommy sewing a dress just for her. I was sad for the lost moment.
Then I learned what costume she wanted to wear. She choose a costume from the dress-up box, one from my childhood. One my Mom had sewn for me. A pioneer dress with a pinafore and bonnet. So pretty with it's blue fabric and white apron. Tangible evidence of my Mother's love for me. Only now can I hold it in my hands and understand the sacrifice of time that went into that dress. I can admire the perfect button holes, the perfect pin tucks on the bodice, and begin to comprehend the skill that went into that dress. I can understand in a way I didn't as a child, precisely how much my Mom must have loved me.
I like seeing Pork Chop in that dress.
I know my Mom isn't in that dress, in those perfect stitches, in that beautiful fabric. Her humor, her love, her temper, her wit can not be captured by the physical, it remains only in memory, in the hearts of those who loved her. But it is still nice to hold onto something she created. A dress that would not exist if she had not existed. Tangible proof she was here.
I know this is not her legacy, a small child's costume. Her real legacy lies in her Husband. In his devotion to her. In the love they shared. It wasn't perfect. At one time it twisted until it broke, but like a storm damaged tree it grew, creating something more interesting and breathtaking in it's flaws than a perfectly sheltered tree could ever have become.
Her legacy lies in me, and my brothers and sister. It lies in my children. And my nieces and nephews. It is in my brother's dry sarcasm. It is in my eyes, and Meaty's perfect lips. It is in Bird's stubbornness. It isn't tangible. But all the same, I like having this tangible piece she created. And I like seeing it on my daughter.
Pork Chop wears the bonnet and smiles. She is charmed by the idea that this was my costume. Not in the fact that Grammy made it, but by the idea that I once wore it. That I was once a small girl. I'm sure in her mind I must always have been who I am now. I wonder how she'll take the news that I am not yet done becoming who I am going to be. She thinks I am a fully finished grown up.
She wants to know if I liked wearing the bonnet. She likes wearing the bonnet.
I liked wearing it too. I've always liked to wear hats.