Grandmother’s dress brings family together

Mallory Mulcare, 12, in the dress her grandmother wore to prom in 1963. Mallory will wear the dress when her father, Brian (left) takes her to the My Prince and Me Ball tonight.

The dress that 12-year-old Mallory Mulcare is wearing to the My Prince and Me Ball has been hanging in a closet for nearly five decades. Her grandmother, Norma, wore it when her future husband escorted her to the prom at Grant Union High School in John Day in 1963.

High-necked and swathed in pink lace and satin, the dress fit Mallory perfectly when she visited her grandparents recently.

“I thought about donating it to a school with a theater program that needed clothing from the ’50s and ’60s,” said Norma Mulcare, who now lives in Burns. “But I’m glad I didn’t because it fits Mallory so nicely.”

Mallory said the dress makes her feel like a princess.

“I love the color and I love how it’s all poufy,” she said.

Mallory’s dress isn’t the only reason this year’s ball is a special one for her and her father, Brian.

A year ago Brian Mulcare was living near a head trauma clinic in Portland, in recovery from a nasty fall from a ladder. But he insisted on coming home to Hermiston for the My Prince and Me ball, a tradition he kept with Mallory and his older daughter, Renee.

Mulcare is now back home, but he still struggles with the aftermath of his fall. He can no longer work — he had worked for Les Schwab for 12 years — and he must carefully manage his environment to avoid painful headaches.

The past year has been a tough one for the whole family, which includes Mulcare’s wife, Tania, and Derek, 7. Brian Mulcare said he not only struggles with his new condition, he also feels the loss of his role as working father.

“At this point, it’s really hard to find your place — to feel good about what you contribute and how you contribute,” he said.

Brian Mulcare’s role as a loving father is one of the things that has not changed since his accident.

“It’s something that we did before the injury and it’s one of those nights where you can put all that stuff behind you and go out and have a good time and just focus on your daughter,” he said.

For the big night, Brian Mulcare will wash his pickup and take Mallory out to eat at her favorite restaurant — Shari’s — before the dance. The dance itself may be a taxing experience for Mulcare because of the loud music and crowd of people, but he is looking forward to watching the other fathers and little ones dance.

For Mallory, the night is about dressing up and spending time with her, well, prince.

“I like it ’cause I’m with my dad,” she said, “just me and him.”

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