The Black Dress

  • Monday, March 3, 2014

A few days ago I had an Altar Guild service so I got out the faithful black dress and spread it out on the bed. As I was putting my shoes on the rug, I was suddenly flooded with a long ago memory.

My parents had two daughters: Her Royal Highness Anne and Her Royal Pain Brenda. As a child I suffered from earaches. Not “oh my goodness my ear hurts,” I'm talking passing up birthday parties with promised ice cream to just stay in bed. Would you believe it, but my stuffed lion Herman with a slightly broken tail suffered from the same illness? We were a sad pair. Mother would feed Herman magic lion aspirin and me magic crushed human aspirin.

One week I was in bed with a bale of cotton in my ear and Herman with his head completely covered in gauze, when my parents had to go upstate for the day. I was left in the questionable tender loving care of Her Royal Highness. After lunch my sister got a call from her best friend, begging her to go to a movie with a group. Anne asked me if I felt like going and for a five-year-old to be included in her sister's group was like winning the best prize in the world.

I was out of that bed in a flash and was not about to confess that I was burning up and very dizzy. We started out walking to town when the rain began, but there was no turning back. I don't remember much about the afternoon and was thankful we got a ride home. On our way to the front door, my sister tried to bribe me with a promise that I could play with her collection of china horses if I didn't tell our parents we had left the house. I hated to tell her, but that ship had sailed because I played with those horses every chance I got. Lo and behold, guess who threw the front door open with a vengeance... mother. Now, usually I had all sorts of helpful suggestions for my sister's punishments, but this time I didn't care. I just wanted Herman and my bed.

Now back to the faithful black dress on the bed. Countless times growing up I saw mother's black dress, shoes close-by, a hat on the dresser, and me wondering if I would ever be old enough to wear a black dress. It is my observation that there are women who look outstanding in black and women who should hope all family members stay healthy so anything black would not be required. My mother looked spectacular in that color. In fact, the joke in our family was that every time daddy coughed, mother bought a black dress. Mother claimed it was mere coincidence, but it didn't hurt to be prepared.

On the last Saturday of each month, mother donned her special black dress and black hat and she and I would set out for the church to prepare the altar for the Sunday service. I loved these times because this was my special time with my mother, watching and sharing a task she truly loved. So thank you Your Royal Highness for taking the Royal Pain out in the rain and proving yourself unworthy to babysit. Because of that dismal afternoon I got mother all to myself for a few hours. For once things actually worked out for the Royal Pain. So, Her Royal Highness zero and the Royal Pain one.

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