An overarching theme of Second Serve Resale that comes up all the time is the idea that our clothing has meaning, and it can tell our stories. You could say it is a thread, haha, that runs through the organization. I’ve written about this a lot, from the identical Norwegian sweaters Susan and I both have from our youth, vintage J. Crew, and the prom dress my mom made. Clothing brings us back to a place in time, and the people we love.
I got a big dose of this as I was looking through our Halloween bin to find a bat costume my mom made. Originally for my younger brother Jesse, it ended up in my family and on my son Henry when he was four. The costume will fit Cami now, Jesse’s four year old daughter, and I want to send it to her. Not sure she would select a bat costume to wear this Halloween- although it is purple, so maybe there is a chance.
The bat costume was mushed up in a ball in the orange Sterilite bin, along with a genuine leather cowboy get up, a Star Trek uniform, a Robin Hood outfit, and Halloween knickknacks my kids have made long ago. I don’t know why I didn’t fold it and seal it up for better keeping. But I probably thought it was a win to just get the costume in the right holiday bin.
I took it out of the bin and spread it out, and went back to Halloween of 2004, when Henry wore it. I know the year because we have a few pictures of him, and he was puffy from steroids, having been diagnosed with leukemia earlier in the year. He wore the costume to his clinic for the Tomorrow Fund Halloween Party.
In the Hasbro Children's Hospital parking lot. That's 7 year old Asa in the front, hamming it up as usual.
A lot of kids can’t go trick or treating because of their low white blood cell counts. The Tomorrow Fund made a tough situation as good as it could be, like they always do, by having their own party.
You can see the worn knee patches. That’s a “prednisone” cookie by the way.
I think of Henry at that time, who was determined to have fun despite all the pills and infusions, spinal taps and lugging around an I.V., among other tortures. I am filled with gratitude that he is ok, and also uncomfortable, as those emotions of fear and anxiety do not really go away. No matter what situation your kid is in.
I reinforced the patches with more patches, sewed a seam under one arm, and reattached an eye.
I am also full of love for my mother, who made this costume not just for Jesse but for all of us, and it is one of the many threads (haha! again!) that ties us together. That it still is here, that I can mend it with the skills she taught me, that I can pass it to my niece—it is enriching. It feels like living.
The swell in my heart is love but also an intensity that feels like pain, because I miss her, too. I wonder if you can only fully love someone after they are gone. I will think about that one.
All this from a costume. A piece of clothing.
Cami may not wear it this year, but she will have it. And Jesse will have the opportunity to tell her how he got to wear this little costume way back when, and so did her cousin Henry. And he will tell her how her grandmother made it all happen.
Share your stories with us!
What piece of clothing is meaningful to you?
What have you saved? Why did you save it?
Do you know the person who made the stitches? Did someone take care to make it fit you?
Do you still wear it? Or are you keeping it for your kids, your nieces and nephews, your grandkids?
What will you tell them when you pass it on?
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Our thanks to our Second Serve Resale community!