“The old trunk in the attic, with a dress for a child but hardly worn. Stained in a memory and tears for a name you’ll never learn”
A few years ago when i was in Pittsburgh, where i was raised and my family still lives, i went with my mom to visit my grandmother. My grandmother has since passed, but she was in her 90s so that deserves a salute.
She lived in a small apartment in an assisted care facility. Her husband, my grandfather had died decades earlier. My mom made a comment to me that what my grandmother did all day was essentially move piles of stuff from one place in the apartment to another.
We chatted and my grandma offered me some candlesticks, which seemed nice and i said i’d be interested. As she went to rummage through them, i glanced up at the ceiling. Atop some cabinets was of all things a little dress. A child’s dress. Small, not a large child, a small child. I asked if the dress was my mother’s and silence fell across the room.
My grandma turned back away and shuffled off again and my mom gave me a “i’ll explain later” look.
Later she explained.
My mom has a brother, my uncle Jerry. They’re the only two children of my grandparents. I thought.
It turns out my mother told me, my uncle is a twin. He had a twin sister who died of a fever when she was about 3 years old. The last time my mother had brought the sister up my grandmother had cried uncontrollably so it was never brought up. That little dress is all that’s left of the little girl. No other trace remains, but my grandma kept it all those years.
It was hardly worn. And as you can guess, i do not know what her name was. The dress is all that’s left.
That’s where that lyric comes from.