When I was a kid it seemed like I spent most of my summer in rural Western Kentucky with my grandmother. When I picture her on those hot days, I see her in a housedress. The simple, cotton dresses were loose fitting but not oversized, usually white, sometime with a delicate print of small flowers and snap buttons which ran up the front. She would not be caught dead wearing her housedress past the boundary of her yard. I never saw her in shorts or jeans. The housedress was her all purpose casual wear.
June means temperatures are starting to rise in Kentucky. Last week I came home from work and I was just hot and sweaty. I wanted out of my work clothes. When I get hot, I want loose cotton clothes that barely touch my body. I was contemplating an oversized t-shirt and baggy shorts, but my vanity threw up resistance. I was planning to retire to my outdoor couch on my shaded front porch with a gin and tonic and a book. Neighbors passing-by can see me. Since I am new to the neighborhood, I did not want to look like a slob or a crazy woman.
I remembered the cotton dresses I acquired during the pandemic two summers ago. They were cheap, comfortable and worked when I had to dress for the office. Since the only time people saw me was through my computer’s camera on Zoom, I went for casual comfort.
I put on the green Old Navy t-shirt dress. It was perfect.
As I sat on my porch I smiled thinking about my grandmother and the time I spent with her during my childhood. Though my house is filled with her furniture, china and other items, wearing my housedress made me feel especially close to her. Now every afternoon when I come home from work, I put on one of my cheap, repurposed cotton dresses. The one I like the best is a sleeveless paisley print from Land’s End.
I have realized that I am around the same age or possibly older than my grandmother was during those long-ago summers. She seemed so old to me back then. But maybe I seem that old to my nephew.