How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it.
We had shopped for hours, my mom and I, and we were having a ball. We knew in our hearts that we would find just the right dress. Five months remained until the wedding; we had plenty of time; we had lots of patience. And then we found it-at J.C. Penney's Bridal Shop.
I remember standing on a dark blue-carpeted platform, surrounded by mirrors. The clerk brought gown after gown for me to try. I felt like a queen, admired by my mom perched in a cozy, overstuffed chair. As soon as she zipped the back of the third dress, we both knew we had found the one.
I never felt closer to my mom than when she fluffed out the train and said, "This is it. It's you."
The moment burrowed its way into my heart and my memory.
Which is why I was so touched by the lovely young lady now trying on my wedding gown.
I was having a yard sale to pick up a little extra cash. I had many things to sell when the young woman and her mom pulled up in their rusty maroon Oldsmobile. But my wedding dress wasn't one of them; I planned on saving it for my daughter.
They walked hesitantly up the driveway. The daughter stayed near her mom as they walked around the deck and lawn looking over the piles on the tables. They picked up an item or two but didn't appear interested in buying anything.
Just when I thought they would leave, the mom turned to me. "You wouldn't happen to have an old prom dress, about size 16, would you? We have been looking everywhere." She paused. "My daughter is getting married in a few weeks and we want something nice for her to wear."
I didn't answer right away, so they started back down the driveway.
"Wait! Wait just a minute." Without stopping to think, I hurried inside to the extra closet and pulled out the large gray bag and rushed to catch them before they drove away.
"I don't have a prom dress. But, would you like to try on my wedding gown?"
The young lady smiled at her mom and then at me.
"Yes, please," she answered timidly and got out of the car.
Although I invited them inside the house, they insisted the garage would be fine. I was embarrassed at its condition, but they didn't seem to mind at all. Giving them some privacy, I steeled myself. It felt … right. Still, I wondered, would I have regrets?
My worry evaporated when I peeked at the bride-to-be in my garage. She stood on a battered red milk crate, staring down at the dress, beaming as her misty-eyed mom smoothed the lace sleeves of the antique-white dress. Both seemed oblivious to the lawn tractor, auto parts, and oilcans surrounding them.
Any lingering regrets faded when I heard her mom say, "This is it. It's you, honey."
I stepped back, afraid to intrude on their personal moment-a moment as special as mine so many years before.
It was a few minutes before they came out of the garage.
"How much do you want for the dress?" asked the daughter.
I hadn't even thought of that. I had no idea what to charge. "How much do you have?"
Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a wad of crumpled, damp dollar bills and counted it out. "I have seventeen dollars, that's it, and I bet it's not enough." Regretfully, she started to put the bulky gray bag on a table.
"Sold!" I blurted, surprising us both.
I cried as they drove away.
Oh, not tears of mourning for my wedding gown. I cried at an important revelation. I realized that-although my pocketbook didn't hold much-my heart was full of priceless memories. My shopping experience with my mom and my wedding day will be in my heart forever. The dress hadn't made the day special; love had.
Nora E. Kessel
Reprint by permission, Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul
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