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  • Kristan Higgins

The 10,000 step journey

Updated: May 6, 2022

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in need of a dress for a special occasion must be condemned not to find one.


Kid, you’re fired.

That’s right, dear readers. I took my mom shopping for her flower grammy dress, God bless me. In case you missed it, my dear daughter is foregoing flower girls in her wedding and having four grandmothers instead—her two biological grandmothers, her not-related-but-de-facto grandmother, and her fiancé’s grandmother. The Flower Grammies! (Of course, I’ll post pictures when the time comes.)


For Nana, it’s all about lunch.

The first flower grammy outing was for Nana, who found a dress at the first store, the third dress she tried on. It’s lavender with a little white sweater. Adorable, and something she can wear any time she wants. She also told at least forty people in the store that she was going to be a flower grammy and wasn’t it wonderful, and even though she’s not related, Flannery is still her granddaughter and always has been, and isn’t she a beautiful girl? Easy peasy and Nana had seven new best friends by the end of the hour. We went for lunch at PF Chang’s, ordered martinis, and had a great time.

But for Sainted Mother…well, let’s just remember that the last time the Princess and her grandmother went shopping, the poor child returned, tossed back four Motrin and said, “I’m never doing that again.” And, because I love my daughter, and because she has a very full work schedule, I took one for the team this time. Spur of the moment works best for my mother…I say, “Let’s go shopping!” and hustle her into the car before she can process my words.

Off we went to the same store where Nana had luck. But for this momentous occasion—the wedding of her first grandchild—Mom was going to be different. She’d wear anything. She had no preferences. For Flannery? Anything the precious girl wanted.


Any color is fine, as long as it’s blue.

These were all lies.

Now, there’s just one requirement of the flower grammy dresses…that they not be the same color, and that preferably, they’re pastel for the sake of the photos. Nana bagged lavender, which is great because my mother hates all colors except blue, and my mother-in-law doesn’t have her dress yet. We found a few blue dresses, but none was right. Either Mom hated that shade of blue, or she didn’t like the pattern, or it looked like something a teenage girl would wear, or it was too long or too short, and why couldn’t she wear electric blue again? We left the store and traipsed over to Macy’s.

“This one?” I begged on the fifteenth or sixteenth dress she tried on. It was peach and quite pretty.

“I hate this color,” she said. “I look like a crone.” Crone is one of her favorite nouns for self-description, despite the fact that she is deemed universally beautiful and looks 15 years younger than she is.

To Ann Taylor. Nope. To J. Jill. Too casual. To Nordstrom’s. Not a damn thing.

“You said you had no preference,” I reminded her. “You said anything for Flannery.”

toe to toe with sam

My mom? Or Samuel L. Jackson? It was hard to tell at that moment.

She gave me the most powerful stinkeye known to mankind. Thus chastened, I unzipped her and returned the dress to the rack. We walked and walked through the mall. Brooks Brothers? Please. Their biggest size is meant for a silph-like teenager, not a crone…er, woman of a certain age. Banana Republic? Nada. Talbots, which has a zillion options for petite women, stuffs the options for us bigger gals in the back…mostly giant shirts and pants. Not a dress to be found. I commiserated with my mother—it’s difficult for me to find clothes in regular stores, too, and Mom is short and plump with the significant boobage that I inherited. “This is very body-shaming,” my mom said, and I put my arm around her shoulder.

“I’m sorry fashion isn’t kinder to us,” I said, six inches taller and with what I call linebacker shoulders in addition to the boobage. “It’s hard for me, too.”

Screen Shot 2021-05-02 at 3.37.10 PM

Is it not adorable?

Exhausted, dejected, and irritable, Mom and I walked back to the store where we’d first entered, to get to my car. I’d have to ply her with Liebfraumilch to make up for this fruitless excursion, I thought, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but…well, it wasn’t blue, and it was long, but…it was so…pretty? Could it be?

Mom tried it on like a true champion, and readers, she looked beautiful. The dress was light and flowy and comfortable and not requiring difficult shoes. “It’s not blue,” she said.

“Do you want to come back another day and try again?” I asked.

“Sold,” she said. “Now get me out of here.”

I obeyed, dear readers. I obeyed. Pop open that Liebfraumilch!


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