The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT

The Party’s Over!

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Every little girl loves to play dress-up, and I was no exception. My Mother’s wedding dress, along with a couple of ball gowns, a velvet cape and some souvenirs from their short time on the Island of Eleuthra, was stored away in a big cedar-lined trunk in the hallway upstairs of our childhood home. I would always take a peek and try something on whenever no one else was looking, especially one of my other sisters (whom I’m sure did the same thing). Naturally the dresses were way too long – the waist of her wedding dress being down to my knees – but I would prance around trying my best to untangle the rest of the dress from my legs as I would walk down the aisle (upstairs hallway) holding the “fan” (a huge piece of coral fan that my parents brought home from the Bahamas) as my bouquet. The only thing I lacked was a good groom – and I found him over 35 years later. Needless to say it’s the feel of that satiny dress, the glamorous look and the longing to be as beautiful as your Mom that draws every girl’s fancy to get “dressed up”.

As I grew, those getting dressed up times soon became a reality. The new dress that Grandma made for Sunday school, the prom dress for graduation, the bridesmaid dress that no girl wants to wear, and eventually the cocktail dress for the office Christmas party. The main event, and I do mean the “main” event, for most every young woman is her wedding. The be all and end all of playing dress up. Each and every time I enjoyed the anticipation of the event, the getting dressed the day of and naturally, attending the event. It was always the sound of the silk or satin material as your legs rustled the crinoline underneath, the gown flouncing around your feet as you walked along in those gorgeous new open-toed shoes you couldn’t wait to get your feet into. Oh, and yes, those were the times that every young girl had a chance to get all “dolled up” – eye shadow and liner, lipstick and blush and an upswept hairdo that made you look years older than you actually were.

Now that I’m about to turn 60, reality has finally set in. I just can’t do it anymore!! I’ve lost my ooomph for getting dressed up. I’ve not even worn a long silk gown since my wedding day 14 years ago, mainly because of my kidney transplant and all of the ups and downs and topsy turvy times your body goes through while getting back on track. I have, however, still gotten dressed up, albeit in long pants with a fancy blouse, and that’s not quite the same, is it?

With the annual golf dinner dance last night it was obvious the party was over. By 10:00 pm I was tired. Even the new shoes couldn’t keep me going as Nat took my hand and led me to the dance floor to swing and sway to the live band playing on stage. The meal was wonderful, the other couples at our table were entertaining and fun and the music was lively. Makes for a great evening if you’ve got the stamina. And even as I looked around the room this year, most (if not all) of the women were wearing sensible clothes – pant suits, pants with fancy blouses and flat shoes hidden in their purses! Most other years it was the norm to wear a long glittering gown, beaded purse and open-toed shows. Only the younger wives last evening were dressed in short cocktail-style dresses with the odd beaded purse and perhaps a shawl or two, and all the power to them. Anyone that can still squeeze into pantyhose has my respect!!!

Being our only social event of the year, I look forward to it, only because I remember those bygone days where I could get dressed up and dance my heart out ’til the wee hours of the morning.  This time around it was all I could do to stay for the awards ceremony and one dance. The awards ceremony is always a treat as there’s a running joke at our table about one of our friends having never won a prize, except maybe a golf trophy some years back. The prize table is laden with golf bags, golf carts, bottles of wine and memberships at the golf course, but poor Jim has won none of it and every year the anguish and disappointment on his face is obvious. This year we also had a chance to talk to old neighbours from St. Catharines that had moved away some time before we did and it was great to see them again to exchange stories about our new old homes and the perils of getting settled in.

Needless to say I quietly nudged Nat when I felt the time was right, to take me home. I also knew that possible snow flurries were in the evening’s forecast and having that long drive home at night, I was worried. Driving at night has also now become a chore. Aging makes you sensible, practical and above-all, realistic. We had had only one dance but at least we did dance to make the getting dressed up worth the while! Maybe next year with a lot more effort and lot of bicycle rides down the Friendship Trail to get myself into shape, I’ll be able to at least dance until 10:30 !!!

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Author: Twila

Born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada, with 5 sisters and a brother. Now retired, my husband and I travel, play golf and am slowly renovating our new (old) home. After my kidney transplant in 1999, we've learned to enjoy life to the fullest. Nat and I have driven across Canada, taken an Alaskan cruise and drove home via the Northern United States. We've also been to Mexico, the Caribbean, the East Coast of Canada and Cape Breton. We've done the "Snowbird" thing, having lived in Destin, Florida for a couple of months of the year. In 2007 we changed our travel plans in order to move into and renovate our new "old" home, but hope to someday get back on the road again. We also love returning to Scotland (Nat's origin of birth) to visit his family and tour the Highlands and surrounding Isles.

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