Thirty-six years ago, my mom didn’t hold my hand, but pushed from behind to ensure I looked good for the prom. Yep, I went to the prom, the only date I had in high school. Even in hindsight I am amazed I was asked to the prom. (Thanks, Mike!) Guess there is something to having a nutty, sparkling personality. I say that facetiously. Let’s also say that by the end of my senior year, I finally embraced the fact that I looked and thought somewhat differently from the norm and went with trying to conform as a nonconformist. So my idea for a prom dress was sewing a patchwork granny dress.
My mom nixed the idea very quickly and adamantly. She enlisted my dad and together they took me shopping for a dress at a genuine dress shop in Salinas that specifically sold fancy dresses for fancy events. Among all the pink and white frilly dresses, was a simple, but elegant, lime-green satin and chiffon affair, which actually looked better than described. It was in my size and it was on sale. And when I put it on, both my mom and I knew it was the one. I didn’t feel like a princess. Maybe more like Cinderella. I was glad then and still appreciative that Mama disregarded my desire for something, okay, I’ll say it, conformingly hippie-like.
Thirty-six years later, I have returned the favor. Yesterday, I held my mom’s hand as we maneuvered the shops in Salinas for the dress for her fancy event. In a few weeks, she will be walking down the aisle as part of the wedding party for a godson. It’s been a very long time between fancy events for her, probably since the late '70s.
It only took two stores to find the perfect sparkly, yet subtle dress. It’s a flowing, taupe- colored, floor-length dress with delicate beading on the bodice and jacket. It’s the kind of dress that would make any stoical woman smile and say giddily, “It’s a princess dress.” Even though the straps, the hem, and the sleeves on the jacket were too long when she put the dress on, we both knew it was the one. Alterations can be easily made to the dress. Just like the bittersweet changes that have been taking place between my mom and me.
I am so glad that years from now I will have a memory of Mama and me walking slowly hand-in-hand through the mall, searching for her perfect fancy dress and having found it.