The Yellow Dress with Blue Flowers

This story is part truth and part fiction. I really did find a little yellow dress with blue flowers at a thrift store and I really am keeping it until I have a daughter of my own. We'll see if the rest of the story turns out to be true, but I'm hoping that it will not be for a granddaughter that I pull out my little yellow dress with blue flowers!

In a little house with a little yard and a little porch there was a roomful of big people talking and laughing and eating cake. On the floor on a pink blanket with lace edging sat a very bewildered baby girl who had just turned one year old. Here she was in her familiar house on her very familiar blanket with her familiar toys. And there was Mommy sitting in a chair talking to Auntie Sara. Daddy stood by the table talking to Grandpa, and Grandma sat on the couch with something in her lap. The baby knew all those people. They were familiar to her. But who were all those other people? Why had they all stared at her when Mommy brought out that sweet kind of bread covered with fluffy, sticky stuff? And what was that thing in the middle?

“Blow out the candle, Emma,” they all cried, and several demonstrated how to go about doing that. “Blow it out!”

But Emma only put her finger in her mouth. Finally Mommy blew on it and the light went off. She took it out and licked off the pink fluffy stuff from the end. What did it taste like?

Emma hesitantly touched the pink fluffy stuff and some of it stuck to her finger. Why did it stick? Would it ever come off?

“Taste it, Emma,” Mommy said. “It’s yummy!”

“Yummy, yummy!” several other people agreed.

Emma held her finger up to Mommy. Maybe Mommy could get it off.

Mommy licked Emma’s finger and said, “Mmmm!”

“Mmmm!” everyone agreed.

Emma looked at her finger. The pick fluffy stuff was all gone. Mommy had eaten it. Maybe Emma could eat some too. She stuck her whole hand in this time and everybody laughed at her.

“Yummy, yummy, yummy!” they said, licking their lips.

Emma slowly brought it to her face and stuck two fingers in her mouth. Mmmm, it was good! Now she attacked it with both hands, the sweet crumbs and fluffy stuff covering her fingers.

Everyone laughed again and Mommy turned to cut up another one. The cake was dished up and they let her finish eating hers in peace.

“Is that yummy cake?” Mommy asked after Emma had demolished hers until it was just sticky pile of crumbs. Emma looked up at her, cheeks and lips coved with crumbs and frosting. She put two fingers in her mouth and ran the other hand through her sticky golden ringlets. “You’re a mess! Messy baby!” Mommy said and she washed the remains of that yummy stuff off Emma’s face, hands, and hair.

Emma decided that she rather liked that cake and frosting stuff. It felt kind of funny all over her hands and face, but it was good.

Then Mommy had set her down on her blanket in the living room filled with people talking and laughing and eating that yummy cake stuff.

She stuck two fingers in her mouth to see if there was any left on her hands and looked around the room with wide, questioning eyes. What were those things piled on the end table and what was that thing Grandma was holding? Emma had seen lots of those at Christmas time but she hadn’t really understood what to do with them.

Emma was lost in the contemplation of all these new and unfamiliar things when Mommy picked her up and set her one her lap. “Are you ready to open your presents?” she asked.

Emma wasn’t sure.

Grandma then gave Mommy the thing that she had been holding. “This is a special present,” she said. “I’ve been waiting years for this day!”

“Can you open it, Emma?” Mommy asked, showing her where to pull.

Maybe it tasted good like the cake. Emma tried to take a bite, but no, it didn’t taste good like the cake. Everyone in the room laughed.

“Open it, Emma,” they all said.

Mommy pulled away the paper wrapping and dropped it on the floor. Inside was a beautiful yellow dress with blue flowers. She held it up and everyone said, “Oh, how cute!”

But Emma was more interested in the paper. She squirmed off Mommy’s lap and began to examine it.

“This is a very special dress,” Grandma began. “I got it a long time ago, before I was married. My mother and I were at a thrift store…”

- - -

The thrift store was full of racks and racks of clothing: coats, jeans, dresses, shirts... A musty, dusty smell filled the air and the radio softly played oldies music in the background. Amanda had just finished trying on a long black dress that she’d found buried among a bunch of old prom dresses.

“I really like this dress,” she told her mother who was rummaging to find baby clothes for her next child that would be born in the spring. “And six dollars is a spectacular deal.”

“Yes, it really is a find,” Mother replied, “and just in time for the dance we’re going to on Friday. Tell me, which outfit do you like better?”

She held up two fuzzy pajamas and Amanda considered them. “I like the green one with the lions on it. The hippopotamus is cute and I like the blue, but I think the lions are more fitting, since our last name is Lyons.”

“Besides,” Mother added in agreement, “the lion one is half off.”

“Yeah, half off twice the price of the hippo one.”

“Yes, but at least I feel like I’m getting a deal!”

Smiling they turned back to hunting. “Oh, this is a cute dress,” Mother said. “Too bad we’re having a boy.”

“Oh,” Amanda cried, ecstatically, holding it up, “I love it!” It was a soft, cotton yellow dress with blue flowers and green leaves. It had a long full skirt pleated smoothly up to the little white collar and had short puffed sleeves that would show dimpled baby arms. Amanda could just see a little girl with tiny blonde ringlets and shiny black shoes toddling around with this sweet dress on her.

While she sat daydreaming, her mother was saying, “We already got Lydia’s present for her baby girl and we don’t know if anyone else at church is having a girl. Oh well, I’m sure someone else will enjoy it someday.”

Amanda was snatched from her futuristic vision to the more real present. “Can’t we get it anyway?”

“But everyone besides Lydia is having boys. I suppose we could keep it until someone does have a girl. I’m sure we’ll have more babies at church soon enough.”

“Couldn’t I keep it? It would be the one item I would put in a hope chest if I had one.”

Mother looked at the dress in her daughter’s hopeful hands. “What if you never have any girls?”

“Surely I’ll have girls.”

“Okay then. It will be the one item you would have in your hope chest if you had one.”

Amanda set it lovingly in the cart next to the black dress. “Besides, if I don’t have any girls I’ll give it to my first granddaughter.”

Amanda gently washed and ironed the yellow dress with blue flowers, folded it up and carefully placed it in her mother’s hope chest on top of her old dolls and the copy of The Velveteen Rabbit that she’d gotten from Granny when she turned two. She closed the cedar lid and her hopes were safe.

The years rolled by. Amanda finished growing up and got married. She moved into her own home and with her came the hope chest with the dolls, the books, and the little yellow dress with blue flowers. She cooked the meals, washed the laundry, vacuumed the floors, and the yellow dress with blue flowers remained safe in the cedar hope chest.

- - -

Then she was pregnant with her first child and she began preparing to welcome this bundle of joy. She and her husband talked about what they would name their child. “If it’s a boy I like the name Joshua. Joshua is a good strong name. What should we call it if it’s a girl? Emma is a nice name. Yes, I like Emma.” Amanda tenderly pulled the little yellow dress with blue flowers out of the cedar hope chest. She held it up admiringly. It was still just as adorable as it had looked that first day in the thrifts store. Yes it would be perfect for Emma.

Winter passed and spring came. In April Joshua was born. He was a handsome sturdy little lad who would live up to his strong name. Amanda dressed him in the green outfit with lions on it that her mother had given her. She reflected that it had been bought half price the same day she had purchased the yellow dress with blue flowers.

- - -

“Joshua, can you show Daddy how you can stand up all on your own?”

“Stand up! Big boy!”

“Show Daddy how you can walk to him!”

On toddling, uncertain feet, Joshua wobbled a couple steps into his Daddy’s arms. Then they turned him around and made him walk back the other way into his Mommy’s arms.

- - -

Amanda was getting her little boy dressed one morning and pulled out a green checked shirt and a manly pair of overalls. “You’re getting to be such a big boy!” she cooed, running her fingers through his golden curls. “If you were a girl I would be dressing you in the yellow dress with blue flowers.”

Suddenly she got an idea. Her eyes twinkled and she smiled mischievously at the little boy. “Come on little man, let’s see what you would look like as a girl.” She took the lamp, the wedding picture, and the telephone off the hope chest and pulled out the little yellow dress with blue flowers. She shook some creases out and unzipped the back. Joshua cooed as the folds fell over his head, smelling of cedar and preserved hopes. She zipped up the back and stood her little girl up. The yellow and blue skirt fell daintily a little below the young master’s knees, the short sleeves exposed his dimpled elbows, and the little white collar perfectly framed his rosy face.

But Amanda could not help but burst out laughing at the sight of her manly boy decked out in yellow and blue flowers. Joshua laughed and cooed right alongside her. He ran and flung himself in the cushions of the rocking chair in his delight, the yellow and blue skirt flouncing with his movements.

“I’m sorry, Joshua, but you’re are a very handsome little man and yellow and blue flowers do not become you. Let’s put the dress safely away for your little sister.” Amanda unzipped the dress, folded it, and lovingly put in back in the hope chest, safe with the dolls and the book. Joshua ran in his diaper to the changing table and grabbed his more appropriate overalls.

- - -

The days and months continued to roll by. Joshua skipped and laughed and began talking. Caleb was born and Daniel followed him. Amanda got out The Velveteen Rabbit to read to her boys. She got out the dolls so her friends’ daughters could play with them when they visited. Three more boys were born and the little yellow dress with blue flowers remained forlornly in the cedar hope chest.

- - -

Six manly boys grew up to become six handsome young men. Joshua came home one day and shouted out at the tope of his lungs, “Annie and I are getting married! She said yes!” His beaming face and wide grin was almost outdone by her radiant face and bubbly laugh. Loud cheers erupted from his five brothers, his father shook his hand again and again, and Amanda squeezed her future daughter-in-law in a crushing embrace.

This excitement was duplicated a few months later as Joshua, looking sharp in his tuxedo, and Annie, the perfect picture of a bride adorned for her husband, said, “I do”. Daniel fidgeted with his collar, Caleb winked at the maid of honor, two others couldn’t keep their feet still, and the youngest laughed when the flower girl dropped her basket of flower petals. Joshua and Annie, oblivious to anything else, stared into each other’s eyes as they slipped the rings on each other’s finger. A supreme happiness filled Amanda and she squeezed her husband’s hand. They smiled at each other, thinking of all the years that they had been blessed with Joshua, all his past antics, his frustrations, and his joys.

The crowd lining the way from the reception hall to the car was loud and boisterous. Flower petals showered down on the radiant couple as they skipped to the car. “Go Joshua!” yelled Caleb at the top of his lungs and Daniel pelted his brother right above his left ear with a ball of rose petals. “Good bye! Goodbye!” everyone yelled as the car took off.

- - -

As Annie and Joshua settled into their new home, the hope chest sat in Amanda’s home filled once again. The old dolls had seen some wear and a few were absent from the community. The Velveteen Rabbit, much worn and read, was still there and some memorabilia from the boys’ childhood had joined the bunch: Joshua’s old teddy bear that was missing an eye, Caleb’s blanket, some favorite books of theirs, and a few toy cars. And on top, still safe and sound lay the little yellow dress with blue flowers.

- - -

One day Annie and Joshua came over. They gathered everyone into the living room. “Mom and Dad,” Joshua said, trying to keep a straight face, “we have some big news for you.” A grin broke through and Annie beamed away. “You’re going to be grandparents!” “I’m going to be an uncle!” said Caleb.

“We’re going to be uncles!” replied Daniel. The other brothers let out several whoops and all five clapped their brother on the back. “You’re going to be a dad, old man!” they reminded him, boisterously laughing.

- - -

In June Emma was born. Annie’s tired eyes sparkled as she handed the baby girl to her grandmother. Amanda stared at her little granddaughter who was peacefully sleeping. This was actually a little girl! She wrapped the tiny hand around her finger and softly petted the delicate bit of fuzz that covered her head. “I think she has a very feminine nose,” Annie said gently, knowing how happy her mother-in-law was to finally have a girl. “Don’t you think?” Amanda nodded. “And very elegant hands.”

“Oh, a baby’s a baby,” Joshua said, light touching his daughter’s “feminine nose”. His face showed how happy he was. “They’re all cute, but you can’t tell a girl from a boy. If we wrapped her in a blue blanket she’d look as handsome as any baby boy.”

“No,” Amanda replied, “She looks like a girl. And” she added softly, “she looks like a girl who would look beautiful in yellow and blue.” She petted her soft, feminine cheek and imagined what she’d look like about one year old in a little yellow dress with blue flowers.

- - -

One year later, Emma sat on the floor in a pink dress, white tights, and shiny black shoes playing with wrapping paper. She decided that wrapping paper didn’t taste as good as that frosting and cake did. Grandma picked her up and said, “Finally you were born, as much of a girl as I could ever want. And now I’m passing this dress to you.” She held up the yellow dress with blue flowers, all washed and pressed as if it had just come off the rack of the most expensive clothing store. But it had not come from any old clothing store. It had lain carefully preserved in the cedar hope chest. Finally it had been taken out and more than twenty-five years of hopes had been lovingly and tenderly pressed into it.

Mommy took Emma into her room, took her pink dress off and put the little yellow dress with blue flowers over her head. The folds fell gracefully smelling freshly of cedar and laundry soap. The back was zipped up and Mommy said softly, “Go show Grandma.”

Grandma sat folding up the wrapping paper when a little girl came toddling around the corner. The sun shining through the window glistened off her tiny golden ringlets and made her black shoes shine. Her eyes were sparkling and her cheeks were rosy. And she was wearing the little yellow dress with blue flowers. The skirt flounced as she wobbled across the room, the short sleeves showed off her chubby arms and dimpled elbows, and the little white collar framed her sweet face. She smiled, showing off her little baby teeth and ran to give Grandma a hug. At last Amanda’s dream had come true, golden ringlets, shiny black shoes and all.