“Worn Worlds” My Grandparents Clothing

After, reading Stallybrass’s essay “Worn Worlds” it made me remember some of the things I had gone through when both of my grandfathers passed away.

When my maternal grandfather passed away in 2007, I was devastated. I can remember sitting in his room staring at his closet. Touching all of his clothes and realizing he wouldn’t ever wear these again. It wasn’t the clothes hanging in the closet that made me sad. It was when I opened all of his dresser draws looking at his socks all neatly flipped together. Digging through these draws rapidly trying to find some lasting piece of him I could hold on to. It has been almost 10 years since he passed and I repurposed a lot of his things so that I always have a part of him near me. Even though nothing will bring back the person that filled out these clothes having pieces of his clothing helps me feel safe and with him.

My paternal grandfather passed away in January. Before he died he asked my family to come into his closet. He wanted to get rid of his clothes. At first, I did not want to be a part of because he was still alive and it felt in bad taste to talk about you not being around anymore. But why his clothing? Why did he want to get rid of it before he died? To make sure it ended up in the right hands?

He asked each of my sisters and me, to pick out a hat. I really didn’t want a hat because in my head he wasn’t actually going to die. I did anyway to make him happy. He desperately wanted to give my dad his suit and cuff links. He claimed the only nice pieces of clothing he owned (it is true). But isn’t it weird, you are dying and wanting your clothes to be safe?  He passed away about 3 weeks later and my grandmother dumped all of his clothing almost immediately. Which I felt heartbroken about and I just don’t know why?

My maternal grandmother has moved in with my family. She is battling with Alzheimer’s which is extremely hard to watch. She loved clothing and dressing up and going out to parties. She sold her house last year and gave me a gift she wanted me to have. It was a custom dress she had had made for a cruise to see Frank Sinatra. She is from a small poor town and to her this $300 custom made dress was everything. She wanted me to have it because she knew I would keep it safe when she couldn’t remember anymore. Every now and then she will have a spark and ask me where her dress is. I assure her the dress is safe with me and I will always keep it safe.

A piece of clothing that I have that holds some type of power is a dress my grandmother gave me. The dress holds so much sentimental value to her. It is a custom made sequined dress that she wore to a Frank Sinatra concert with my grandfather for their wedding anniversary. I don’t practically love the dress and I probably will never wear it but she holds that dress so dear that it makes it valuable to me.

She recently had to sell her house and move in with my family because of her Alzheimer’s diagnosis.  When she came upon the dress, she made sure to give it to me because of my interest in fashion. My mom explained to me that this dress was her favorite thing and wanted to know it would always be safe. This is why I have it now. My mom told me it was a really big deal for to purchase this dress.

It is crazy to me that with her memory slipping, she can still hold onto the memory of that dress. Every time, she remembers it she will ask if it is safe. I make sure I let her know I still have it and it is in perfect condition. She can then go into a story of exactly what happe
ned when she wore the dress and how excited and happy she was. Because this dress brings my grandma so much happiness and great memories it holds a powerful meaning for me.


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