Now her hands worked on a different project: a wedding gown.
For her whole life, Eva Delany had dreamed of one thing: Her wedding day. She’s spent her teenage years pouring over wedding gown magazines, her young adult years putting together plans, and now, as her forty-fifth birthday approached, she had began to put away such dreams. She had finally comes to accept that it mustn’t be God’s Will for her to marry. Eva had watched her high school friends marry, watched them have children and seen those children start to grow up. Her heart ached a little as she watched their families grow, not with envy but with a sad feeling of being left out. But just as her heart ached most, her hands had found a reason to rejoice. Eva’s niece, her oldest sister’s only child, was getting married, and had commissioned her aunt to crochet a creation worthy of a queen. Eva had agreed reluctantly, but the further she got with her hook and thread, the more she enjoyed this crowning achievement of a project.
“Oh, Aunt Eva,” Mindy gushed as she looked over the half finished gown, “It’s even more spectacular than the pattern showed.”
Eva smiled at her young niece, imagining the bubbly wisp of a girl wearing the work of her hands. “It won’t be long now. I’ll have it ready soon.” She promised, and Mindy had gone away in a whirlwind of excited giggles and dreamy sighs.
Eva poured her heart into the gown. Only once did a small voice remind her, It could have been your gown.
Mindy’s wedding day dawned as bright and bubbly as Mindy. Eva woke with a smile, hoping her niece had chosen a simple veil to go with the resplendent gown. After all, anything else busy would make her niece’s ensemble look tacky. She glanced at her own gown- tasteful but not overly fussy- and wondered what her sister must be feeling as she watched her only daughter prepare for her wedding.
Arriving at the church was a hassle, thanks to a full parking lot and so many people walking in front of moving cars. Eva managed to make it inside just minutes before her niece would walk down the aisle.
She spotted several ladies carrying shawls she had made as she entered the church. The cool April morning was perfect for them, Eva thought with a pleased smile. She saw one of her cousins holding her little baby, wrapped in a soft blanket Eva had sent before the infant had ever entered the world, another smile playing about her face. It was nice to know her gifts were appreciated after she had put so much hard work into them, and had not been laid aside as useless.
The mothers entered, and then the bridal march started up. Eva stood with the rest of the congregation as her niece entered on the arm of her father.
It was picture perfect.
The long, lacey rows of the dress swished against the silk under dress as Mindy walked slowly up the aisle, her dark glossy hair barely resting on the ornately crocheted sleeves of her gown. Eva had the fleeting fear that Mindy’s bouquet would catch on the lacey flower details at the waist of the gown, but knew Mindy’s mother had coached her well enough. And besides, if she did, Eva could hardly blame her. It was her wedding day, and she had more important things on her mind.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…”
Eva sighed, remembering her sister’s wedding in the same church. She only wished she had been given a chance to do the same.
The ceremony was sweet and solemn, with a heartfelt prayer from the bride’s uncle and a duet by two of her best friends. Eva admired the young voices and sincerity of her brother’s prayer for their happiness. All too soon, Mindy was Mrs. Troy Davis, and the bridal party was exiting the sanctuary.
Eva followed the crowd towards the reception. She heard more than one person admire Mindy’s gown, though no one seemed to understand that it was not knitted but crocheted, and that it was not store bought, it was handmade with every ounce of love and hard work she had. Eva’s almost laughed when she heard one girl say she had seen a gown just like it in a bridal magazine.
Not a chance, that gown is truly one of a kind, Eva thought as she waited in the receiving line.
“I knew I recognized that hem.”
Eva turned around and then grinned. “Aunt Hazel.” She hugged her aunt and nodded. “Yes, I used the same edging as your doily.”
Though growing frail, Hazel’s eyes still shone like a child’s. She clasped Eva’s hand between her own and shook her head. “I know I never gave you a pattern, Eva. Don’t tell me you recreated that from scratch.”
Eva nodded. “I’m afraid I did. I needed something that wouldn’t catch when Mindy walked, and that scalloped edging was perfect.”
“You did an excellent job, Eva. Just perfect.”
“Thank you, Aunt Hazel.” Eva tried to change the subject, before her aunt started singing her praises too loudly for everyone to hear. “I didn’t know you were coming today.”
“Oh, yes, I had my neighbor drive me down. Can’t see as well as I used to, you know.” Hazel shrugged and acted as if failing eyesight was commonplace. “He’ll be around here somewhere, I want to introduce you.”
He? Eva had assumed any neighbor willing to spend three hours in a car with Aunt Hazel and her chattering would have surely been a lady.
“Well, it’s pretty crowded in here. I’m sure your neighbor is around someplace.” Eva assured her aunt.
“Just stay put, I’ll go find him.”
A distant memory of her aunt pulling a similar stunt surfaced, and Eva blushed. Last time Hazel had introduced her to a man, sixteen-year-old Eva had almost been the victim of her aunt’s match making skills. It was only later that Eva had wished she had been less shy and spoke.
Eva was almost to the bride, groom and bridal party when her aunt returned. “I found him.” Hazel nearly shoved the man at Eva.
Barely making eye contact, Eva nodded. “Nice to meet you.”
“Why, Eva, don’t you remember Nicholas?” Hazel frowned.
Eva looked up and realized the eyes returning her gaze had been the same eyes she had turned from with a blush nearly thirty years ago.
“She’d probably remember me better as Nick. I think that’s how you introduced us the first time.” He said, winking at Hazel before turning back to Eva with a courteous handshake. “But it has been a while, hasn’t it?”
“Uh, yes, it has.” Eva turned quickly as it was her turn to speak to the newlyweds. She could hear Hazel and Nick talking behind her in line, though she couldn’t make out what they said. Once she had said her proper congratulations and well wishes, Eva hurried to an out of the way corner to stand, hopefully out of sight of her aunt. Unfortunately, Eva didn’t escape for long. Hazel rather obviously sent Nick over, carrying two cups of awful looking green punch.
“I never did like this stuff.” He said, offering her a plastic cup.
Eva accepted it with a soft thanks, but didn’t drink it. “It looks like the same exact punch my sister had at her own wedding.” She said with a sigh.
Nick stifled a chuckle. “Might even be the same batch. I doubt green tropical ice cream goes bad.”
Eva giggled, and shook her head.
“I seem to remember Mrs. Hazel sending me over with a cup of punch twenty-something years ago, you know.” Nick said with a careless shrug.
Eva studied him, the graying hair and creased brow. He was a far cry from the teenage boy from so many years before. “She did.”
“Was it Mindy’s mother’s wedding?”
Nick shook his head. “Hazel has some excellent planning skills, you know. She probably had this reunion planned way back then.” He teased.
“How have you been?” Eva asked, hoping to avoid that awkward first meeting being brought up any further.
“Good. I joined the Air Force not too long after your sister‘s wedding, traveled the world, got married.”
“Oh, is your wife here?” Eva asked politely.
Nick’s head dipped. “No, Becky died about six years ago.”
“I’m sorry.” Eva could have kicked herself for bringing up an obviously still painful topic.
“Thanks.” Nick cleared his throat. “What about you?”
“I stayed here. I still work at the same office, though it’s changed names and hands a few times.” Eva said with a smile.
“Your aunt tells me you made the bride’s gown?” Nick asked.
Eva nodded. “Yes, and it’ll probably be the last gown I make. It was a strain on my hands and eyes. But well worth the work.”
“You did an excellent job.” Nick commended. “Did you ever get a chance to make one for yourself?”
Eva shook her head. “Wedding gown, no. Plenty of other dresses, yes.” She tried to laugh it off as a joke, but Nick was not going to let the subject end.
“Well, you may still have the chance.” He nodded hopefully. “You never know.”
“I think I’m willing to stick to crocheting baby booties and blankets for any great-nieces and -nephews that may come along now.” Eva said, dearly hoping the subject would be dropped.
Nick frowned. “You wouldn’t want a chance to make your own wedding dress still?”
Taking a risk and looking at Nick, Eva’s eyes narrowed. “As old as I am?”
Nick threw his head back and laughed. “You’re not old, Eva.” He told her at last.
Shrugging, Eva sighed. “I’m too old to get married. I’ve already made peace with spinsterhood and I’m happy to sit by my fire and crochet for the rest of my days.”
Nick’s smile faded and he shook his head. “I don’t like the thought of you sitting by your fire alone. I’d still like to ask you to the dinner Hazel tried to get us to go to so many years ago.”
Eva smiled warily. “You’re joking.”
“No I am serious. I’ll even make you a deal: if you’ll give a second chance to our first meeting, I’ll knit ten pairs of socks.”
“Ten pairs of socks… wait, knit?” Eva shook her head. “What on earth are you talking about?”
Nick shrugged. “I’ll learn to knit or whatever you call that stuff.”
“That stuff happens to be crochet.” Eva corrected gently. “And it would be a while before a beginner like you would be making ten pairs of socks.”
“I get the feeling if someone as skilled as you taught me, it wouldn’t take that long.” Nick gave her a grin.
Eva couldn’t help but grin back. “Alright, it’s a deal. But if you don’t get those socks done, I know one person who will be mighty disappointed.”
Nick puffed his chest up proudly. “I won’t disappoint you.”
“No, no. Not me…” Eva pointed across the room to a smiling Aunt Hazel. “Her.”
One year and a half later, Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Mills gave his last pair of crocheted socks to their new owner- her great-niece, Eva Hazel Davis.