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Day Six: Rilla Blythe, My Grandmother, and Me

November 6, 2013

2013-05-21 14.36.53   Between my first two semesters at university, I spent the summer with my grandparents in northern Illinois.  My grandmother communicates in spurts, ripping open ideas and spilling out with memories and opinions.  Mostly I was along for the ride, waiting to see where she was taking us next.

One afternoon she announced she was going into the mall and that I must go too.  I asked what she needed and was met with silence.  She gripped the steering wheel, clenched her teeth, and headed west.  I asked what store we were going to and she held her jaw a little tighter.  I looked out the window and watched the trees fly past.

In the mall we went to department store after department store.  I watched her flip through racks of clothing, assessing and rejecting each item in turn.  She was heavier then than she is now and I was confused by her fixation on sizes 8 and 10.  By the time we reached the fifth store, I had had enough.  “Grammy,”  I held my hand over hers on the hanger and looked right into her face.  “What are we looking for?  Please let me help!”

She harrumphed at me, pulling her hand away.  I took another breath and resigned myself to another afternoon of mysteries.  Then she burst out, “If your Grandfather sees you in that dress one more time, he’s going to DIE!”

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I am still proud of the fact that I did not laugh.  She had a point.  I had a favorite summer dress and had practically lived in it for a month.  It was always clean, but I certainly wasn’t winning any variety in fashion awards.

Seventeen years later, things are limited in ways beyond my partiality to brown, patterned dresses.  Between student loans, a car payment, and all of the other monetary responsibilities, I am doing my best to use my resources wisely.  As I made my resolutions this year, I wanted very much to focus on using what I have and buying less of what I don’t need.

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Which brings us to Rilla Blythe.  Rilla bought a showy, non-utilitarian hat in the middle of World War I.  Her mother, Anne (yes, the Green Gables Anne), reminded her of the sacrifices her countrymen were making and Rilla vowed to wear that useless, fashionable hat through the end of the war.

Well, I’m almost always up for a little melodrama.  I promised not to buy new clothes or jewelery or shoes unless it was absolutely necessary.  I’ve not been perfect at this by any means, but I have had shoes repaired and learned a good deal about mending.  And I’ve had a moment or two to look in my closet and notice that I still love those browns.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jean M. Peterson permalink
    November 8, 2013 11:04 am

    That is a hoot. I love to hear that story! lol

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