‘The thrifty ways we’ve reused mum’s wedding dress to keep her memory alive’

Sep 05, 2019
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Robyn's sister has lovingly included portions of their mother's wedding dress into many of the family's celebrations. Source: Pixabay

Even though my mum passed away more than 25 years ago we are still able to make sure she symbolically joins us for all our important family events; significant birthdays, graduations, engagements, weddings, christenings etc. No, it’s not magic, it’s thanks to my very smart sister, Denise; she being the ‘Keeper of the Family History’.

I am the youngest of six children and we were all extremely close to our mum. When she passed we were all devastated and, like most families, had the excruciating task of deciding what to discard and what to keep. Secretly, I kept her brush, comb and curlers because they all had some hair in them; silly, I know.

The one item never in question was Mum’s wedding gown. None of us questioned who was the best person to care for this treasure; our family-history-orientated sister, Denise. With the passage of time Denise came up with a most thoughtful, considerate and unselfish inspirational brainwave, she had Mum’s gown professionally divided into sections, each piece lovingly placed between glass plates and given to each of us, noting our names and Mum and Dad’s October 1937 wedding day. So unbelievably perfect.

Each of us had married, produced offspring and life continued. Suddenly, it seemed, our offspring grew up and either walked down the aisle or waited patiently at the other end. Significantly, notably and meaningfully, Nana’s wedding gown always found a way into the nuptials.

Some brides sewed a section into their gown, others incorporated the lace into the floral bouquet, prayer book, handkerchief or, one cheeky miss, into her garter because she thought Nana would laugh (and she would have). Bridegrooms usually put Nana in their pocket, boutonniere or, again, another cheeky mister, had a seamstress frill his shirt cuffs and border the top of his wedding socks in Nana lace.

Then, most of them produced babies.

With our lot, each individual family cocoon celebrates life and their babies in their own unique way; we don’t care whatever form that takes. We’ve had ‘no reason’ parties, a ‘just for the love of Smarties’ (yep, the chocolates) carnival, naming days, no-name day festivals, birth merriments and baptism recognitions. Fairy floss breakfasts, as always, a clear winner. My granddaughter was the latest of these with a no-fuss, plain as all get-out, church goin’ baptism (plus first birthday celebration) — and my sister had a baptism cloth made from Mum’s gown for the occasion. I was thrilled beyond belief.

Robyn’s mother on her wedding day in 1937. “She was a petite woman”. Source: Robyn McCoy

As you can probably see from my Mum’s wedding photo, she was a petite woman, approximately 8st 6lb (53 kilograms). I know Denise to be a producer of magic for our family (bless her) but I am beginning to question how much more material can be left from such a small gown.

Perhaps, like magic tricks, I shouldn’t query how she keeps pulling that lacy rabbit out of the hat — maybe just appreciate that the bunny keeps turning up all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The Nana lace keeps her memory alive and will continue to do so for many generations to come.

Thank you my wonderfully inventive sister, Denise; your efforts are lovingly noticed, recognised and appreciated. Mum and Dad would be so proud of you.

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Do you and your family have a special way of remembering loved ones? Is there someone in your family who perfectly cares for your family history?

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