Wendy’s clothes were to be white, top to bottom.
Leaving Andrea and Rick at home, I drove downtown, fully expecting to easily find what I needed.
I parked the car and began my search for a simple white dress, size newborn.
The Bay, Eatons, and Woodwards carried infant dresses in every variety; flowered, laced, beribboned, with or without a crinoline, but nothing in simple white.
Next I tried the less expensive stores, searching through Zellers and Kresgee’s, with no success.
I stood on the sidewalk as the sun beat down on me and turned to view the shops from my vantage point on the corner of 101st Street and 101st Avenue. Tears began to fill my eyes as hope faded. White sleepers? No. Please, Lord. There must be a little white dress somewhere.
I wiped my eyes and nose with Mom’s hankie, and looked across the street. There on the corner was a store I’d been in once with my sister-in-law, a business woman who wore only high-end clothing.
Dare I? I glanced at my reflection in a store window. My garb consisted of a frumpy orange jacket that still didn’t meet across my middle, loose maternity pants, stretched at the knees, and the moccasins I’d begun wearing in order to relieve the blister on my still swollen feet. What did I care? I had money. That’s all that mattered. I raised my chin and entered Holt Renfrew, where a pair of gloves could cost $200.00. This was a store where the Mayor of Edmonton shopped. I’d seen it on the news. And now, I was entering its doors.
The children’s department was small. It didn’t take long to view the inventory, and there I found the simple, all-white, dress I was looking for, at an unexpectedly reasonable cost. Choosing as well a pair of size 0 white stockings, I made my way past blouses and dresses, some priced close to a thousand dollars, and placed my purchases on the counter. I was keenly aware that I was shopping outside my station, so to speak. Still, my circumstance dictated a liberty I would never have taken otherwise. This was for Wendy, not for me.
The clerk, a well-dressed woman who had the professional grace to accept my presence, rang up the items and gave me the total. I don’t recall the amount, but I do recall her comment.
“Oh, come on,” she laughed. “Smile! It can’t be that bad!”
I was taken aback. A retort sprang towards my tongue. Yes, it can be. I’m buying a dress to bury my baby.
But the Lord in his mercy chose that I not crush this woman’s bubbly spirit, and my mouth remained closed. I smiled a sad smile, paid my bill and left.