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The Veil
by Julianne Jones
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Kate shifted the fabric in her lap and carefully placed the needle in the pincushion. It wouldn’t do to leave it lying around and have someone step on it with bare feet. How well she remembered the day when Jace had done just that and had been forced to have it removed in surgery. She knew no one would thank her if today - of all days - someone had to be rushed to hospital because of her carelessness.

She sighed and cut another length of thread. Almost done. She really shouldn’t have put it off so long. Shifting slightly in her chair she picked up the veil again and continued stitching.

It had been her grandmother’s veil. Married during wartime her grandmother had worn a borrowed gown, but had bought the fabric for her veil: bought the best that money and rationing could provide. For years it had been safely hidden away in the old cedar chest that had also belonged to her grandmother, packed in tissue paper and the fragrance of dried lavender.

Her mother hadn’t worn the veil. “Too old-fashioned,” she’d declared and had instead worn flowers in her hair: the same flowers embroidered down the front of her simple gown. After all, it had been the beginning of the sixties and traditional values were being discarded in the name of freedom.

She had worn it later though. When she had stood beside her husband of thirty years and renewed their wedding vows, the veil had graced her head. On that day she had looked more bride-like than she had on her wedding day.

The pearls scattered across the veil caught her eye and Kate gently lifted the veil to gauge the effect. The pearls had been added for her own wedding day. Together she and her grandmother had lovingly hand-sewn the tiny pearls to the veil. Pearls so tiny that when they dropped one it would fall between the cracks in the floorboards, never to be seen again. It had taken them an entire day to sew all the pearls on. Kate could still remember that day: sitting in the sun, working and laughing together, listening to her grandmother’s wisdom about life and love and marriage and children.

And now today, she was again using her scissors and thread on her grandmother’s veil. The lace had yellowed with age and was lifting away from the headpiece, but the veil itself was as white and soft and flowing as any bride could wish for. It had taken Kate several days sitting in her chair with the sun streaming through the window to remove the lace and replace it with the ribbon she had lovingly braided and studded with tiny pearls.

There had been a time when she had hoped that one day her own daughter would wear it – but those hopes had been dashed after the birth of their first son. “No more children,” the doctor had said and Ben hadn’t allowed otherwise, despite her tears and arguments and insistence that God would look after her.

Then God had brought Sophie into their lives. Her parents divorced and several times remarried, Soph had never experienced a loving and stable family life. Kate suspected that at first Jace had felt sorry for the young girl – he’d always been so tender hearted and it had worried Kate at times - but then, ever so slowly, love had blossomed.

Sophie had seen the veil – seen it one day when Kate had been sorting through the chest in readiness for moving house – and had timidly asked if she could wear it on her wedding day. Kate had agreed: it seemed fitting somehow. And now Kate sat and sewed: sewing into the veil all the love and hopes and dreams that she had for her son and his future wife.

“Kate.” It was Ben. Kate hadn’t heard him come in. She looked up into his face: into the face of the husband who had loved her so faithfully throughout the years.

“It looks beautiful. Soph will love it.”

Kate smiled and snipped the thread she had just tied off, then reached back and stroked his freshly shaven jaw.

“I hope so. It’s taken longer than I expected. But it’s finished now.”

And just in time. In less than an hour Sophie would walk down the aisle to become Jason’s wife. In the wearing of the veil she would be surrounded by the loves and hopes and triumphs of three generations of women who had gone before.

“Just think, one day you and Soph will sit here together and use your needle and thread so that your grand daughter can wear it on her wedding day.”

Kate laughed then quickly sobered. “I’d love to see that.”

Ben leaned down and kissed the top of her head.

“Ready?” and at her nod he took hold of her chair and – as he had every day since Jason’s birth – gently pushed her chair in front of him and to wherever she wanted to go.

(838 words)

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Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Ward 24 Nov 2005
Oh Jules, good job! I had tears pricking for the whole last half. Very nostalgic. I love generational connections of love. You just get better and better girl! :) Karen


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