My Red Dress Moment

If you haven’t read The Bloggess’ The Traveling Red Dress, then stop what you’re doing and check it out before continuing.

Read it?  Good.

Here’s the thing – I had a mega “red dress moment” during the past few hellish weeks.  It really had nothing to do with me, but was all about Bruce’s mother Marti.  I was never lucky enough to meet this incredible woman (someone recently called her a “goat-drivin’, bear-huggin’ space lady!” and they were not wrong. They left out many things including – but  not limited to – Jeopardy-writing/playing, house-winning, brilliant and incredibly funny).  She passed away suddenly and just as suddenly Bruce and I found ourselves in Arizona attempting to deal with the emotional trauma along with her estate.  It was one of the most difficult times of our lives.

While going through boxes and drawers and everything else that accumulates during a lifetime, we discovered a whole treasure trove of photographs that Bruce didn’t know existed.  So we spent several evenings winding down and looking through them, and he would tell me stories of his family.  And as we were going through them we discovered a photograph of her from 1956.  My reaction was immediate: “WOW, now that’s a gown! She looks gorgeous.

That’s amazing, isn’t it? Yes. Yes it is. It left rather an impression on me.

We looked through a few more pictures and then collapsed from exhaustion.

Early the next morning I took on the task of cleaning out the first floor coat closet that had a crawlspace back under the stairs.  It was hot and dark, and I could only see vague outlines of objects.  I grabbed at a large bundle that was hanging on a post and began to pull it out into the light, and as I did so I caught a glimpse of red – I assumed that it was part of her holiday decor.  But as I emerged from the crawlspace I saw the glitter of sequins and actually gasped with realization: this was her dress.  This was that dress from the night before – and it was RED.  One of the most vibrantly red gowns I had ever seen in person.

“Oh my God Bruce – look at this! It’s the dress! It’s THE DRESS!” He didn’t remember what I was talking about, and I didn’t waste time unwrapping the dress that had been bundled up in plastic while I tried to remind him of the picture.  I really was in awe of this woman I had never met, and a whole new understanding of her as a woman dawned on me.  This woman seized her days and was vibrant and didn’t hide from life.  She owned a red dress, completely rocked that red dress, and then preserved that dress for 57 years.  This discovery was one of the most amazing moments of my life.

So, cut to about a week later, and we’re back home and beginning to try to recover from everything that we had been through.  We had shipped as many items as we wanted home, and yes, one of those items was the dress.

I took the dress out of the vacuum sealed bag it had been in for its journey, and fluffed it out.  I then somehow managed to squeeze it onto my dress form that I had painted purple a few years back (have I ever mentioned my forever love of the color combination of red and purple? I have a forever love of the color combination of red and purple).  Marti was crazy-petite and I had to do some major smooshing of the dress form wires to get the side zipper zipped.

Finally after some very creative furniture re-arranging, the dress took up a place of prominence in our living room.  It actually looks like we designed the whole living room around that dress.  Bonus points are that Hafukiti LOVES to hide and sleep under that dress (Marti adored cats).

Here it is:

WOW.

Both Bruce and I marvel at how beautiful it is and how it beautifully fits into our place.  We both think that it’s a lovely tribute to his lovely mother, and that she’d be amazed that we love her dress as much as she did – and that it reminds us every day to live life to the fullest.

Thank you Marti.