My Mom had them all in a plastic bag. A whim motivated her to pull them out for me, as she was showing me her new clothes for the cruise her and Dad were to take for their 50th Wedding anniversary.
White gloves. Lots of them, all in the plastic bag. They had been her mother’s gloves. All of them were white. There were different kinds of materials and various degrees of ornate decoration to simplicity itself. I could not help myself. Feeling the pull of countless generations of women, I reached in and started trying them on.
A sheer, frilly affair was lost from its partner. Once united they made a handsome statement of women’s femininity; don’t be deceived by the seemingly fragile material – it has stood the test of time. “Here I am,” it says, “frilly, lovely and still here.” I was enthralled, letting their loveliness take me to the special celebrations and high times they had witnessed as they clothed my grandmother’s hands. I found myself hoping she had indeed lived the moments of high life alluded to by the gauzy gloves.
Heavier, suede like material made up another pair. It was matched with its partner. A row of tiny pearl white buttons held folded over scallops in place. I marveled at those tiny buttons. Who does such detail work now? The craftsmanship communicated a level of under spoken pride. Images of my grandmother wearing them to church rose up in my mind. I found myself feeling the quiet solitude a moment in church must have brought her, and the confidence gloves would have wrought as they covered up hands marred by countless baking and home chores. The soft elegance of the gloves would have gone a long way to shelter dry and broken hands from an observer’s view.
My hands are little bigger than my grandmother’s. I tried several of them on and they fit, just barely. Mom was talking about giving them to a theater group. They were in such good condition. My fascination with them prompted me to ask her to wait, I wanted to look at them and keep some for myself. The gloves started their work on me. Started me thinking of my grandmothers from a different perspective. The gloves seemed to symbolize a time forgotten, a sensibility to social mores; yet also the strength of these women to pave the way for my generation.
I give myself permission to open my eyes to the white gloves of my own heritage, the beauty and sanctity and amazing fortitude of those who have gone before me.