The Orange Skirt

The Orange Skirt

My maternal grandmother raised me the first few years of my life. She smothered me with love, genuine Christlike love, love without judgment of who I was or what I represented. I thrived on her love and knew nothing out of the norm. For years hers was the only love I knew. When I was about 3 years old my grandfather laid down the law so to speak and told my mother that it was time for her to step up to the plate and adult. She went from youthful whimsey driving a convertible MG to a frustrated parent driving a rambler sedan. I was miserable to be separated from my grandmother and she was
miserable to have me as a constant reminder of a sorry time in her life. A year later she married and had my brother – a child that she openly adored. Every summer and weeklong school holidays she would send my off to my grandparents much to my joy.

In their home I knew only order, security, acceptance and loving discipline. My grandmother taught me to enjoy reading (and how to use the library as a resource for books) and to study hard in school. If I did well, she would reward me with a clothing shopping trip at the end of summer in preparation for the next school year. These were grand all day big town adventures which included lunch at a fancy café where real table cloths and napkins were used. I was eager to please her because she loved me and I just didn’t want that love to end. So, A’s and maybe a few B’s were what I did. The year I was entering into the 6th grade fashion became a big deal - “mod” clothes, bright colors and bold patterns. My mother would never consider any of this for me because I was a “big” girl which she found offensive in her size 2 frame. That style would only accentuate my offense of being fat.

I had made all A’s on my last report card and my grandmother was delighted. She told me that she would let me pick clothes that I wanted knowing I would be going for that “mod” look. We started the day of shopping purchasing two jumpers, one bright and flowery and one bold geometric blocks of color. Then a pair of black stirrup pants with a hot pink sweater. We paused for lunch and a stop at Penney’s for undies and socks. Then we walked downtown and window shopped until I saw a neon orange A-line skirt with some special stitching at the hem - I adored it and my grandmother did too. In the shop my grandmother found two orange skirts with a bit of difference and had me try on each one. She noticed that the one that fit better was a few dollars more. While getting dressed, I watched in stunned silence as she switched the price tags (remember they used to use small safety pins). I had never seen my grandmother sin. All that I knew of her was an honest woman who spoke of her love for God, had read bible stories to me and had diligently taught me right from wrong. There was nothing I could say (back then children did not correct adults or call out behaviors.) My heart was sick. She paid for the skirt and we went to the shoe store for a pair of keds and “church” shoes and then home. I was silent aside from thanking her for the clothes. I just could not speak; I was afraid I would burst into tears. She took my silence for being tired.

A few days later I packed to go home. I couldn’t get past what my grandmother had done. It just didn’t make any sense to me because my grandparents were financially comfortable in their retirement. We never spoke of what happened. I never wore that orange skirt, never ever put it on, shoved into the back of my closet. My mother chastised me for being wasteful and disrespecting my grandparents in not wearing it but I held my tongue.

I remember praying for God to forgive my grandmother so that she would still be able to go to heaven, I loved her dearly and could not imagine heaven without her being there. As a child I perceived God as some sort of distant strict disciplinarian – one wrong move and poof off to hell you go. Now I know this is not true. He is the God of grace and mercy and hope. Jesus on the Cross is the greatest act of love ever. John3:16 If we look at the world, we will experience disappointment. If we look at Jesus, we will know hope and hope eternal. And love. Unfailing love.
The Orange Skirt
By Stacey Baer
The Untethered Mind

theuntetheredmind@outlook.com

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