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.