Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Dress

As I pulled out of
the Goodwill donation
garage last week, the
peach chiffon dress,
nestled in its dry cleaning
bag, lay across a heap
of clothes and pillows
in one of those mega
storage bins.

My heart clenched.
My eyes pricked.

I took a deep breath.

via privetandholly on Instagram

And as the sunshine
on that bright January
day beamed through
my windshield,


And gave thanks.

Thanks for the 95
year-old lady who
danced in that peach
chiffon dress at my
brother's wedding,
when she was 88.

Although she no
longer remembers her
dancing days, I, her
granddaughter, know
that until the last few
years, she danced 
through every decade
of her sweet life.

{GiGi on the right; bestie Mildred on the left. }

GiGi's parents scrimped
during her teen years, the
time of the Great Depression, 
so that she could have 
dancing lessons.

It wasn't peach chiffon
in those days, but fabric
donated and sewn up
by her best friend's older
sister, that she wore to

{Third from the left}
When she graduated
from high school and her
dad saw the ad in the
Cleveland Plain Dealer 
for an audition with
Donn Arden's Models, a
traveling vaudeville troupe
similar to the Rockettes,
off she went in her 
homemade costume....

And made the cut.

An exciting new chapter
in her life unfolded.

{She later discovered that
the other dancers thought 
her audition outfit was
so velvet
shorts and a little top.}

Even after she became
a wife and a mother and
hung up her professional
dancing shoes ~ 

that's how
it was in those days ~

Gigi still loved to dance.

It wasn't uncommon to
see her do a little two-step
when she was really excited
about something : )

Well into her 80's, she
always told me that she
was going to learn
the tango,


In her golden years,
Gigi and a friend joined
Arthur Murray Dance
Studio for instruction.

Which is where the
peach chiffon dress 
came on the scene.

She wore it to a recital,
with a sparkly brooch
pinned to the bodice.

Oh, that dress just

She was so enamored
of its style that she kept
it in her closet for over 20
years, until it reappeared
for my little brother's 

The rumpled chiffon
looked a bit forlorn
on that Goodwill pile.

But as she herself 
used to say,  

All good things have 
to come to an end.

{With the groom!}

Like her dancing days.

And the mind that was
able to remember them.

And the peach chiffon dress.


Luckily, I still have
the brooch.

And her stories.



Allison Carra said...

What a beautiful post! It made me cry. You should publish this in a little book of memories. So sweet, from the heart, so moving. Love your photos too. Simply gorgeous. Have a wonderful weekend. -Al

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

What a darling and precious reminder to dance through life. What a treasure of inspiration your Gigi provides.

Myra said...

Sweet, sweet story. I was blessed with two awesome grandmothers. Oh the memories!

Joanna said...

That's such a beautiful recollection - she was, and is, such a beautiful lady.

I can imagine that, for a dancer in particular, the peach chiffon dress would be quite magical - the way it moved when she danced and how it felt on her. The sparkly brooch is the perfect addition.

Precious memories, Suzanne.


Janice Tutone said...

To me this is what Blogging should be about. I loved this story and thank you for sharing. What a beautiful lady! XXX

Jenny said...

Suzanne, that is a beautiful story of your grandmother's life, in a nutshell. We must remember the stories and write them down as you do. Smiles to you. xo Jenny

Debby said...

What a beautiful GiGi. Beautiful memories.

NanaDiana said...

Oh, Suzanne-My eyes just pricked with tears reading this. How wonderful that you now have the dress and all the memories associated with it. Dementia is such a terrible disease; robbing wonderful people of their memories and dreams. God bless your sweet Gigi and may God bless her dreams with what "used to be". xo Diana

Olive said...

How sweet and special Gigi is to you. I love the pink shoes too.

Diane Cayton-Hakey said...

Gorgeous brooch! Bet it looks great on the lapel of anything you decide to pin it to. Just lovely as is your story.... look how sweet she looks in the dress!

Katherine said...

Beautiful, beautiful story. x

Katherine said...

Beautiful, beautiful story. x

Blondie's Journal said...

What a sweet precious story...I have a lump in my throat. Gigi is a perfect example of beauty and spirit. I want to live this long and dance the whole time, too!


Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

I am in tears.

We can discuss this gorgeous post this week as we meet, but let me just say that she is as beautiful as ever.

See you this week to really talk about this! Anita

The enchanted home said...

I LOVE THIS Suzanne! What a beautiful woman inside and out...obviously someone who knew how to enjoy all that life offered, and how wonderful that even in her 80's she was still dancing through life looking fabulous I might add.
This is such a sweet and poignant story. Love it!

Nantucket Daffodil said...

Oh she is lovely. I adore the story. I was VERY close to my Grandma Edna, so I can relate to the bond. The pin is so pretty...what a treasured memento to pull from a drawer and let the memories flow. It would also look lovely pinned to a piece of vintage velvet, framed and leaned in a special spot like your bedside table. She is truly an inspiration!

Sandy at You May Be Wandering said...

What a lovely well written homage to your brought tears to my eyes as well. What a special lady!

Have a beautiful weekend...xoxo

Kelly said...

I don't know what more to say than what has already been said. These pictures and words that accompany them are simply precious and dear. What an amazing story and lady. She is an inspiration! God bless her.

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

What wonderful memories and stories, Suzanne...such a life and such a woman! I'm glad you still have the brooch and photos...and you keep the special memories, too. A BIG XO, my friend!

doodles n daydreams said...

What a lovely family story to be able to hand down. And so wonderful that your grandmother was able to dance on as she got older.
I remember my grandmother telling me about the dances that she loved to attend when she was young, but how once she was a married woman dancing was frowned on by society in general and so she stopped doing something she loved.


Palomasea said...

I am crying Suzanne...
This is one of your most beautiful tributes...what a spectacular lady...
You have touched me so.
A blessing...
Precious Gigi is stunning...possessing all of her beauty and grace of long ago...
And how you resemble her! Inside and of spirit as well as everything else...
Bless you both, sweet friend...
A hug to you from me (via dear Anita) :)
- Irina

Marie said...

What a sweet and tender post Suzanne. Made me cry too. xxoo

Susan T said...

A wonderful tribute to a wonderful lady, such style and grace and full of life. Who knows what sweet memories fill her mind on occasion, she may be able to picture that swirling peach dress and just for a short moment her heart will sing.

Gina Howie said...

Such a beautiful post. We should all be so lucky to have someone write about our lives so wonderfully. She has left an amazing legacy. Thank you for sharing.

Shelly W. said...

What a beautiful woman, and what a beautiful tribute. I love reading your memories!

Sandi~A Cottage Muse said...

What a beautiful lady, thank you for sharing a little chapter of her life with us, loved it!

susanmarie said...

Suzanne, Your GiGi was gorgeous! Plus those fabulous legs, even at 88! What a wonderful legacy she left you and I can see her in you. Thanks for sharing her history with us. Someday you'll be a GiGi too and dance at your grandson's wedding.


Leslie said...

Suzanne, such a wonderful tribute to an amazing woman. How lucky she was to be able to DANCE for as long as she did! I feel a knot in my stomach when I hear these stories because I realize the we all get to this point.. we can't be young, or live forever. This is the cycle of life.


Cozy Little House said...

A beautiful woman, inside and out. You resemble her. Beautiful words, straight from your heart and soul.

Tiffini said...

this made me cry!
i was just thinking the other day how quickly our lives just go by and we are gone
morbid? maybe but i feel if i don't keep that in the forefront of my mind so much will eascape me and it also helps me make choices.
when one is present..knowing their own helps make better choices.
your grandmother was beautiful!! and do resemble her. hugs to YOU sweet sweet encouraging i pray others are encouraging to give so much

michele said...

beautiful, suzanne. love how you manage to keep love alive and breathing.

smiles to you.


michele said...

beautiful, suzanne. love how you manage to keep love alive and breathing.

smiles to you.


Hindustanka said...

So beautifully written about your beautiful grandmother! She was looking not less than a movie star!gorgeous woman, and the brooch is of course, more than it is now, it's a memory..keep it.

Hindsfeet said...

Oh Suzanne....what a tribute, written as only you could write it....

so very lovely,


Violetas Rendadas said...

Lindas lembranças e saudades. Que bom que você guarda com tanto carinho o broche. Parabéns pela postagem.

pollydove said...

And she always remained gorgeous and glamorous didn't she?! (And those LEGS!!!) What a fun story and fabulous pictures .... my grandmother was a ballet dancer with the Rochester ballet company until she had a baby too, but sadly I don't have any pictures, just the stories. Sigh. You are lucky - this is a treasure!

(Oh and Suzanne - I noticed that you made an instagram comment on a post by lesnels8 - she's my sister!) xo

Just a little something from Judy said...

What a precious tribute to a beautiful lady. I think you shared her pretty dress in a very special way. I must admit, it brought tears to my eyes. I pray someone will be able to wear the dress and dance again.

pretty pink tulips said...

I am so enamored by your GiGi!!! I was one of the little girls who never got to take dancing lessons - still not sure why my parents thought 12 years of piano was such a good idea...I never play. So, I love that your great grandparents made the sacrifice for your GiGi to have her lessons and that they led to such adventures.

xoxo Elizabeth

A Vintage Chic said...

Oh, Suzanne...loving my family's history, as I do, I think you'll know how I feel about this most beautiful post of yours. What a beautiful tribute to your sweet Gigi.

As always, dear friend, your words touch my heart--that is one of your great gifts, and I love how you employ it. Thank-you.

Wishing you the loveliest of days, dear friend...


Diane Mars said...

That is a beautiful story of a Beautiful ladies life all centered around that lovely chiffon dress... may the memories be passed down to all the generations that follow~ Hugs, Diane

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...


This is so I type this I have tears in my eyes. A special woman who obviously made a huge impact on your life. You are so very blessed to have this wonderful, feisty woman in your life. My grandmother is often on my mind and although I feel blessed that she was here until I was in my late 20's I still miss her whenever I am baking, or reading or listening to our favorite operas.

I hope that you have a wonderful week and thank you yet again for ALWAYS sharing your beautiful thoughts, words.

xx Elizabeth

Julie said...

well, I commented earlier when you had written this and it didn't take. And I came back over today to see if you had a new post. SO, I am trying again??? Loved your words and emotions shared about your GiGi. I can FEEL how much you love her, that you feel a part of her IN you. I feel a part of my Mom's mama in me. My middle name is her name. FRANCES.- but friends loved to call her Frankie. She inspired me. She loved life, and lived and embraced it fully. I believe that your GiGi did/does. And you are following. Yes. And your writing affects so many. Love you girl. Stay warm in that Minnesota winter. {{HUGS]]

Lx @ Twelve said...

Just the loveliest post to read, thankyou for sharing those precious memories & GiGi's story.


Sylvia said...

The story is moving and beyond beautiful, Suzanne, and you are a brilliant storyteller! Thank you for sharing GiGi's passionate life and your family history; I believe with the peach chiffon dress in your hands or without it, the story will always be a part of who you are. I love seeing old family photos. You made my day brighter and my heart whole.

Sylvia said...

P.S ... and you really resemble your grandma, especially on this beautiful new photo with a big warm smile... I wonder do you like to dance? :)

Privet and Holly said...

Sylvia, thank you for
those kind words....
and YES, I love to
dance at weddings,
where it's free form
and uninhibited!!!
I'd be terrified of
actual ballroom dancing,
though ~ two left feet!
Maybe because I'm five
inches taller than GiGi : )

xo S.

Tricia said...

Oh this is such a wonderful story, full of such great memories. It made me feel a little weepy, but also brought a smile to my face when I saw the beautiful photo of your grandma posing in that shiny little outfit. She looks so makes me think of you. xo

patty said...

ohmygosh... i think that pulled on every heart string i ever had. what a beautiful tribute. i remember a past post you wrote on gigi... and that figure! :)

such sweetness, suzanne. thanks for sharing.

Little Cottage on the Pond said...

Lovely memories. Reminds me of my mother- she turns 70 this month and still tap dances four days a week. I shared your post with her :)

Heather Lindstrom said...

What a lovely post on an inspiring woman. That brooch-such a special memento to have in your collection as well as your memories.
Cheers, Heather

susan@avintagefarmwife said...

What a sweet tribute to your grandma! She must have been something. There is nothing like a grandma, is there? Mine are both in heaven, but they are also in my heart. I think of them often!

Anonymous said...

Hi Suzanne, First of all I love this latest post. Your Grandma sure had a lot of style didn't she! In the photo where she is holding your Uncle as a baby, I see a lot of Elizabeth in her face. Do you see it too. Love you and talk soon I hope - Fiona xx

Mona said...

I love this post about your grandmother...and what a treasure to have this brooch...our grandmother's are really something aren't they?