Reading the obituaries isn’t always a somber event. Sometimes I see one that brings up a great memory and even makes me smile. I recently saw one like that.
The mother of a long-ago friend, Eva, had died. When I saw that I immediately remembered a sweet story that Eva had told me about her parents when we shared an office space at our first employer right after high school.
Eva and I frequently exchanged funny stories about our lives. And, of course, since we were just out of high school, we still lived with our parents — so they were a frequent source of our stories.
Eva’s dad John worked for the same company we did so I knew him by sight. He was a short, balding man with a friendly smile. And Eva described her mom Sophie as a short, slightly chubby, stay-at-home mom. It was obvious from Eva’s stories that her parents had a great relationship. So as I remember this particular story that Eva told me, it went this way.
Sophie and John’s anniversary was coming up and he wanted to take her out to a very nice restaurant for dinner. But it was always hard for him to get her to agree to do that because she usually said, “Oh let’s not go someplace so nice. I just don’t have anything that dressy to wear.”
So this time he decided he would keep her from making that excuse — he would buy her a dress!
When he got home from “running errands” (really shopping for a dress) on the Saturday he had made a dinner reservation, he showed Eva and her sister the dress he had bought for their mother. It was a straight, bright red knit dress. It was a pretty dress, but the girls were doubtful about how the dress would look on their chubby little mom. Oh, and as an extra little touch, he had also bought her a bright red lipstick the same color as the dress! He was sooo excited, so his girls didn’t share any of their reservations about how well his little plan would work. They just wished him luck.
Sophie knew they were going out for dinner that night but she thought it would just be to their favorite family restaurant. So, she showered and dressed in something very basic like a skirt and blouse. But when she came down to the living room and said she was ready, her husband presented her with a beautiful box and told her to open it. She was shocked! It was a beautiful red dress and he had even thought to buy her a lipstick to match! He then told her that they had reservations at a very nice supper club, so she should go change.
A little while later, as her family waited expectantly in the living room, Sophia came down the stairs wearing the dress and the matching lipstick.
Ummm. The girls weren’t sure what to think. The dress didn’t exactly flatter their mom because, as knits will do, it clung to her chubby-ness in not a totally flattering way. But she had a big smile on her face, so she must like it.
And their dad. He just stood there and stared at her. And then he said, “Oh Soph, you look so beautiful.”
It was obvious that neither parent was looking critically at how the dress fit. Sophie was seeing it as perfect because her husband of many years had bought it for her. And John was seeing it as perfect because it was on the woman he loved. Then they left for dinner and had a wonderful time.
I guess I remember this story so well because it is such a great example of how love and loving acts can color our view of life. And now that I’ve shared it with you, may the mental picture of that red knit dress on a slightly chubby little lady be a reminder to you too that even if the gift doesn’t fit perfectly, the love that is behind it is always perfect.