“Geez Dovie, don’t take my head off. Just delivering something.”
I opened the door and Clewis walked in with a box. “It’s from Mrs. Hopkins and her sisters. She said to open it now ‘cause knowing Frankie and the girls you’ll likely need it.”
His words made me afraid to open the box, especially with him standing right there. I gave him the stare down eye but all he did was start grinning. “What?” I snapped.
“For a girl who is about to get married you sure are jumpy and cranky. Keep that up and people will be thinking that this is a shotgun wedding whether you want them to or not.”
“Oh you!” I said, looking around for something to throw. When I didn’t find anything I turned back around. “You better not be spreading that kind of talk. You know doggone good and well this isn’t a shotgun wedding.”
He snorted. “I know, I know. Ol’ Jude has gone straight as a board … or maybe I should just make that straight and boring.” I gave him the eye again and he laughed. “Ok, ok, don’t get your knickers in a knot Cuz.” Then he surprised me and came over and gave me a hug before saying. “Ain’t got much that you don’t already have so I’m gonna give you some advice. Being married is different. You think you’ve got things figured out and then you find out real fast you don’t. It’s a lot more work than you’re gonna expect it to be.” More seriously he added, “And on some days you’ll look at the person you married and wonder any number of things like how you missed noticing things about them before, are they still the same person, were they ever that person to begin with, do they still feel the same for you, and a whole boatload of other uncomfortable crap. Just keep having faith that whatever troubles you face will make you stronger, refuse to take the easy way out, and you’ll find that things eventually even out. ‘Bout the only thing I can tell you that’s worth saying at this point. But … if you want to talk … ever … well look me up and I’ll hear you out. Might not say what you wanna hear but I’ll still listen.”
“Aw Clewis …”
“Oh don’t start that. I am out of here before Dad pounds me for making you water up.” I had to laugh at how fast he took off and it was just the thing to stop the tears that threatened at his suddenly being nice to me when he was normally such a stinker.
I turned and opened the box and on top of some white gift tissue was a note.
It is all so romantic, just so, so romantic. It is like one of those scandalous books in the lending library … of course my sisters and I have never actually read them but the covers are enough to make a grown woman blush. And young Jude has taken the part of the reformed rake and you the maiden fair. [Uh huh … sounds to me they’d read more than one or three of those so-called scandalous books.] However, swept off your feet or not, tradition must needs observing. Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. It would please us very much if you would “borrow” our Aunt Ophelia’s stole … it is real white mink don’t you know. We heard of Frances’ design plans for your dress and imagine that you might find it just the thing. Your parents would be so proud.
Love from us All!!
I pulled the tissue paper back and lying nestled inside was a lump of fur; I guess in fancy circles they are called a stole. I couldn’t help a hysterical giggle escaping. I was going to look like something out of a tabloid magazine by the time people were finished dressing me up. First the lingerie the girls had put together, then how they’d altered the dress, now a mink wrap. Oh well, at least now I’d be warm and all of the poppable features would be less visible just in case of an escape.
I was running out of time and couldn’t put it off any longer. I skinnied out of my heavy winter coat, my work overalls, and every day long johns – growing closer and closer to resembling an icicle as each layer came off – and then back into more silk and lace than I had ever worn in my life. I quickly pulled on the only warm thing Aunt Frankie had allowed for – thick thigh high tights that looked like they’d been made to be worn by one of those silly looking manga characters (probably Faith’s contribution) – and then slid my feet inside the white ankle boots that had been Mom’s. The boots could be my “something old”. The dress was the “something new”. The stole was the “something borrowed” but I had no idea where I was going to get “something blue.”
I left off worrying about it because I realized trying to do up the dress was going to be next to impossible by myself. Lucky for me there was another knock and Tiffany asked, “Dovie?”
I shuffled over to the door with the roughly gazillion crinolines under the dress hampering every step and let her in. “Thank goodness. I thought I was going to have to send out an SOS.”
“What’s an SOS?”
“It means I need some help. Can you get this for me? I swear, what nutter thought that it would be cute to run shoe strings all up the back of a dress. Haven’t they ever heard of the modern invention of zippers or buttons?”
Tiff smiled then surprised me by saying, “Momma hated fussy clothes too.”
“Uh huh. She would have Grammy change buttons on her clothes to plain ones and take off collars even sometimes. Grammy said it was because Momma’s mom, my other grandmother that we didn’t see much, was forever dressing Momma up like a doll when she was little.”
“Is that so? I suppose I might feel the same way too in her shoes.”
She was quiet again and I worried that I had said the wrong thing but when she said, “Finished” I turned around to find that she was still smiling. I didn’t push but I hoped that maybe with time Tiff would let more things out rather than holding them in. Memories can only hurt you when you don’t share them. Maybe I need to make a point of talking to Paulie more. And I should include Uncle James in that as well. I was the only one left that could share that part of his story with him.
Mimi picked that moment to slam through the door like a buffalo and then stopped short driving all other thoughts from my mind when she said in a voice that could be heard all the way to Nashville, “Dovie! Aren’t you cold? You’re front is all showing and looks like it is about to fall out!”