Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You Look Marvelous, Darling!

This is the third post in this series.  Please see The Preface for further explanation.

It might seem outrageous now, but thankfully Antonio never questioned the sanity of it.  In fact he thought it was brilliant when I wanted to order clothes and have them Fed Ex-ed to Oklahoma City.  You see, my black dress suit didn't fit anymore, and the kids had a dearth of something appropriate to wear.  Antonio's suit was impeccable, so no problems there, and he thought it was a great idea to splurge so that the whole family was dressed well for the funeral.

He didn't give me the standard response I got from others:  "It doesn't matter what you wear."  "Your mother doesn't care how you look."   My husband understood my mom and me, and he didn't think it was shallow or irresponsible.  (I love that man!)

When I asked my mother-in-law if I could send the things to her place, she also thought it was a great idea.  She went the extra mile and offered to make any necessary alterations after we arrived on Tuesday night.  I am still touched by her thoughtfulness and kindness to this day! 

So on an otherwise sad Sunday while the reality of Mom's passing was trying to sink in, I went online and had some fun in the search for pretty clothes. I bought a beautiful black sweater with a slight shawl neckline, a long black skirt that was all flowy and elegant, and adorable suede black pumps with gentle ruffles near the toe that echoed the sweater's delicate folds--all from J.Jill.  From Hanna Andersson I bought my daughter a gorgeous black wool-blend dress with white piping stitched in perfect loops just above the hemline--totally vintage 1930s and just charming for a nine year old girl. All the kids got new shoes from Zappos.

The only online store that sold boys' dress socks for a reasonable price was The Gap.  I ordered suits and shirts for the older boys from Target. (And they turned out oh-so-dapper.) They didn't have the right size for little Joe who was twenty months old at the time, but my mother-in-law (who is a saint!) was at the ready.  She saved the day and found the perfect outfit at her nearby Target.  She also bought the belts.

And just to let y'all know, my mother-in-law is amazing and thinks of everything! When we arrived at her apartment,  the suits, Caitlyn's dress, and my outfit were all lovingly put on hangers (she even bought kid sized hangers so that the kids' clothes would hang right).  She made everyone try on everything, took measurements, and yes indeed, she altered all that was necessary for just the right fit!  She made sure everything was pressed and ready to go the night before the funeral--again, amazing!

So on that day, that perfectly dramatic storm-cloud-filled day, we buried Mom, and we looked good. 

Actually, the kids looked fantastic! (Pardon my motherly pride.)  Extended family ooed and awed over them, and it was this silver lining of joy that seemed to permeate the somber crowds.  The kids loved it!  They were so proud to be dressed-up.

I didn't look fantastic, but it was a nice feeling to be dressed well.  I kept my make-up light, and I only wore a cross and simple earrings for jewelry.  I didn't fuss with my hair, but thankfully it seemed to behave that day.  Taking the time to get dressed with care somehow helped me not feel so helpless.

My husband was nothing but dashing in his suit.  Can I hear an "Amen!" from all the other ladies who love seeing their men in a suit and tie?!  He's handsome anyway, but it was a delight to look across the room and see him in his very best. 

Was it necessary?  I mean, really?  Did I have to overnight boxes of clothes and shoes?  The expense, the sheer extravagance?   No.  God loves everyone no matter how they dress. 

Chalk it up to having had a mom who was born and raised in the Big Apple.  Blame it on the decorum that came from her Southern mother.  But I just needed to honor my mother by putting a best foot forward.  I know I didn't "have to."  

Ask anyone, and I do mean anyone, what they thought of my mom, and they will tell you that Julia deSaix was elegant.  They'll pause for a brief moment, and then add that she was also fun and kind.  She was decidedly not a snob yet had a glamour about her even when she wore jeans.  It was simply fitting that Julia's daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren showed up in classic style. 

Buying the clothes and dressing up was also a gift to me of incongruous frivolity that made the heaviness of grief a little lighter.  I cherish that my husband and mother-in-law joined in the fun with me and made it all so much more sweet.

© 2009-2015 Emily Woodham


  1. I love your blog though I don't often have time to sit and read (your posts are so dense I have to be in the right mindset to read).

    I love this story about putting on your best. Was it necessary? No. Did it help your healing? Yes? Then I bless it and bless your family for letting/helping you.

  2. Thank you Sarah; that means a lot to me! :) I still have your e-mail from that time. You have a gift for bringing comfort!

  3. I love this post, Emily. Who would've thought of dressing up and looking her best at a time of grief? But this post brings a smile to me because it is things like these that remind us we are living and we can make choices. What a great tribute that you splurged to make the family look good for your elegant mom! I think it's absolutely wonderful.

  4. Thank you, Helen! Your thoughts about this mean a lot to me. Thank you for all your kind words! :)

  5. Good for you, my lovely girl. You have done more with your writing than your mother did. Your skills as a wordsmith are certainly growing. She would be beyond proud and amazed by all that you do. You have far exceeded her example.