Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Vignette from little girlhood. Moma's Lavender Skirt, by Donnetta Lee

Mama's Lavender Skirt
by Donnetta Lee
(Island Grove Press short story)

I adored playing dressup when I was a little girl. Mama gave me old jewelry, scarves, and articles of "gently used" clothing that would transform my world. I often coveted one of her skirts or dresses, waiting for the day when she might consider the piece worn enough to be passed on to me. That's how it was with her lavender skirt.

Mama looked like a princess when she topped it off with a white cotton blouse. Although I was never the beauty that my Mama was, I felt that skirt had the power to bring me up to Mama's level of pretty.

I yearned to wear that skirt knowing it would transport me to mysterious places and allow me to become someone special, someone far from common. The lavender skirt took me there.

The skirt was simple but beautiful. Made of cotton, it was gathered at the waist by a conventional waistband. The only thing remarkable about it was its lavender color. Too subtle to be called “purple,” it reminded me of the lilacs growing on the big bush behind our house. It was a pretty little girl color.

I never begged Mama for the skirt even though my mouth watered when I saw her wearing it. That would have been impolite and would not have made the waiting hurry along any more quickly. I was patient. I admired from afar knowing that someday it would be mine, shared with me in love.

As time passed with its washings and ironings, the lavender skirt eventually reached a point in its life where Mama considered it worthy of being a dress up skirt. I finally had the privilege of slipping into its lilac cotton coolness. It was heavenly.

The first time I wriggled into it, Mama had to pin it round my waist with a tiny gold safety pin. It tumbled all the way down to my ankles. I swished the cotton folds back and forth with my hands and twirled in humongous circles feeling I could fly as if I had butterfly wings. That skirt had a freedom to it. It had a freedom that let me become anything I dared to be.

On one occasion, I was a mother with a newborn baby walking in the snow, trying to save my little one from the freezing cold. I wrapped the folds of the miraculous skirt around my baby doll to save her as we trudged onward to an imaginary house in the distance, just over the hill. I saved her, of course. All because of the skirt.

Another time, I donned the skirt and became a famous singer crooning out the only verse I knew of “Claire de Lune.” The skirt swept me away to a seaside where I twittered out the haunting strains in the moonlight as the ocean accompanied me with its rhythmic heartlike pounding and the moon's reflection skittered across the waves.

The very best magic the skirt worked for me was to change me into a blithe ballet dancer floating around the living room which suddenly filled with billowing clouds. I danced the whirling dance of the dervish. I pranced like a proud prize pony. I performed almost-pirouettes. My arms were beyond graceful, and I knew with out a doubt that I was the most elegant ballerina under God's sun.

Throughout every adventure wearing the skirt, my Mama was there with her sweet smile. She was my ever patient, never complaining audience, cheering me on. Her applause was the finest encouragement a performer could hope for. And it took so little to earn it. Just to be there with her, weaving dreams with the wonderful lavender skirt.

When I close my eyes on a quiet afternoon in the spring or early summer and smell the perfume of the lilac bush, I am reminded of that whimsical skirt. I see Mama pinning me into it and sharing its beauty with me. I hear the applause and Mama telling me what a great performance I gave.



the walking man said...

This is the feeling we all lose as we grow and then spend a lifetime trying to re-capture. Who would have know it would be found in the scent of lilacs and the memory of a dream making skirt.

Well said Donnetta.

ivan@c said...

Well said, Mark.
As a male, I was at first obtuse to this, but as a patent who has a daughter, I really began to be charmed, captivated by the story.

Donnetta Lee said...

Thanks Mark and Ivan. I hope the story will be enjoyed. I doubt there is anything quite like the bond between mother and daughter when it is such as this. I am so, so lucky to have had this lifetime with her. Thank you, Ivan, for publishing this little story. D

ivan@creativeritig.a said...

You are certainly welcome, Donnetta.
The bond betweed mother and daugher.
"If you only knew how crazy I am about you" from both sides.
Congratulations on your publishing this story with us.
Er, Island Grove Press is a tough market to crack. We are the little engine who thought he could. We strive to get the best online writers. No hackers
Youve got to have quality, and both you and Mark have it.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lovely. you know, I think this piece did more to put me in the mindset of a young girl than anything else I've ever read. totally alien to me in a way, and yet I could understand it. said...

Thanks, Charles.

As an accomplished and published writer, I knew you would get the story.

ea monroe said...

D, your Momma and her lavender skirt were your gateway into your incredible imagination! ~Liz

ivan said...


Donnetta is enroute to Florida from Oklahoma, trying to escape the heat. Good luck to her! Hope she has found a laptop on her travels to send stuff in to fuzzy-eared publishers like me.

Mona said...

This bring to my mind the closet full of my mother's numerous sarees. All my sisters would clamor for some of the best and laid claims to them, saying which one they would like to inherit.

I never wanted to inherit any...I wanted my mother to outlive any of them...

Great story Donetta.I loved the way you wove memories around a twirling skirt! said...

Some Toronto Protestant ladies would kill for a beautiful saree.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Donnetta, How lovely this is. I went on the adventures with you as you told the stories and if for only a brief moment I held them as if they were my own. I finally got the chance to see what a little girl was suppose to be.

Thank you
T said...

Call me a nance, a cross-dresser, a fop.

I love this story, and I know how much it means to Doneetta to have it published. said...

Oh crum.

I inadvertently publihed part of Dawn's piece without permission--while she was still composing....Don't know how that hapened. Full moon. Sorry. If I knew how to delete it, I would.
Damn, I'm turning schizo. Better get off the machine.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Nicely written vignette about Mama's lavender skirt. Was it you, or Island Grove Press, that decided on the white space between each paragraph? Regardless, it was the right thing to do. I'm not so sure about the italicized byline -- seemed a bit long for this blogger's weak eyes. said...


Yes, it's nice piece by Donnetta.

As for the italics stuff, I goofed. Rushed it into print before the writer gave it the Okay. She had intended to condense.

If you have a vignette of your own, now would be the time. said...

PS to Jim:

I an mow going to remove that italicised story at the author's request. I somehow jumped the gun and printed the HTML from her, without realizing she had a revision coming.
No wonder I was once canned by the Toronto Telegram as an editor.
But then they "canned" the paper too. It was scuttled.