19 November 2007

Stylishly Honoring Where We've Come From

Apart from being grammatically incorrect (never end a sentence with a preposition*), it's ever so important to remember where we've been - and where we're from. As I wrote before, Justine Picardie's My Mother's Wedding Dress touches the subject of heritage and memory clothing ever so delicately. Reading her essays reminded me of all sorts of clothing-related memories of my own (my brown & cream polyester "cheerios" pant suit at age 2).

This weekend I cemented a little bit of homage myself. Just before The Bean arrived, my grandmother realized that she could no longer safely drive. So she gallantly (and painfully, I think) offered to sell her Freedom Car to me. I say "Freedom Car" because it's the car she bought all on her own after my grandfather died following a long illness. Not that she didn't have a say in earlier car decisions, but after 50 years of marriage, I know she felt a certain glee at picking out something and not having to check in with someone else (allthough for sad reasons). As it turns out, her gift (of "selling" it to me at a price ridiculously below Blue Book - all has to do with an incredible sense of "fairness" she has around 17 grandchildren) is an enormous blessing, and she delights in hearing how I'm driving all over the place after 33 years of being a public transport user.

So on Saturday, H picked up my vanity plates. Or rather, in this case, memory plates. I named the car after my grandmother. "Roberta" now stands clearly on front and back of the mom-mobile, a quiet reminder of an Irish Catholic woman who did - and does - things her own way. I haven't yet called her to tell her they're in, but am very much looking forward to it. Just as much as if she'd given me a brooch and I'd worn it for the first time.

This all makes me think of the little things we do and wear to remind ourselves of whence we came. On my wedding day, I wore bracelets and a brooch from my mother's family, and our wedding rings were H's parents'; we're expected to honor family on those "red letter" days. But what about every day? Browneyz99 commented that she's going to renew her wrap dress shopping with her grandmother's brooch in mind. I proudly wear a signet ring given me by my parents from a store owned by a dear friend's grandparents. A scarf here, gloves there. A color that reminds me of another grandmother.

It's all a way of honoring, remembering, and keeping them close.

*In itself an homage to my hertiage. My mommy's a reformed English teacher.

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