Friday, March 16, 2012

The Wisdom of Emily Gibbs

Hey, Y'all,

I'll warn you that I'm a bit of a mess today, but I'd love for you to join me at the kitchen table for some hot tea and Irish tea bread with lots of butter and jam.  I may have to ask you to pass me a kleenex every once in a while if you don't mind.  

Monday, the 12th, was the first anniversary of my mother's death.  On the 13th, my sister, brother-in-law and I met with Michael Taylor of Michael Taylor Estate Sales to plan my mother's sale.  It is scheduled for April 19th, 20th and 21st.  Michael told us that he was doing a sale this weekend one street over from my mother's condo and suggested that we come by to see how he runs a sale.  

I just got back from the sale.  

Over the past 20 years I've probably gone to at least 100 estate sales.  I love vintage Christmas decorations,  linens, and glass serving pieces.   When you purchase them at an estate sale you get a sense of the people who used them.  They don't need them anymore and now the things they loved will be used by someone who appreciates them  and will use them for happy occasions.  

I went to today's sale with the intent of seeing how things were staged and priced.  I hoped that I might find an old handmade Christmas ornament, a cut glass platter and perhaps a vintage lamp for my bedroom which I'm redoing.  I found all three.  I also ran into a woman I worked with 30 years ago and the precious lady who was the teacher's aide in my son's kindergarten class.  Her husband played Santa Claus for their Christmas party.  I proudly showed her the pictures of my adorable grandson and told her that Neal grew up to be an artist.  {He tended to get caught up in the art center and had a strong aversion to the math center.}  I did not anticipate being blindsided by a flood of tears when I saw some people looking at the lady's pots and pans and a half-used bottle of Windex.  

In five weeks, people will stand in my mother's kitchen and look at her Tupperware and cake pans and maybe some Windex.  And they won't know how that Tupperware practically had a security guard standing by it if Mama took it to a covered dish supper at church.  They won't know that she used that tube cake pan every year when she made fruitcake which was soaked in brandy for ~6 weeks before Christmas.  She worried about people seeing her buying the brandy.  They won't know what pride she took in her home and the amazing amount of housework she could do in one day and how clean she kept her windows.  When they go through her boxes of fabric they won't know how she used to hide fabric so Daddy wouldn't know how much she had stockpiled. They'll see used kitchen utensils.   I marvel at the power an old soup ladle can hold because it is imbued with memories of watching Mama dip up her homemade potato soup into Blue Onion melmac bowls.  

The rational adult part of me knows that we cannot keep everything.   I have a house full of things already.  We are keeping a lot of things!!! But, the little girl part of me wants to cling to every single thing from my childhood kind of like a little child with a lovey.  I am viscerally sad.  

This is where Emily Gibbs comes in to our conversation.  Remember in high school when you read Our Town and had to write about the themes in the play?  I remember I wrote about Emily's monologue in the cemetery.  You know, the one after she gets her wish to go back to an ordinary day in her life?  I got an A on that paper.   I didn't know s*** then.  Today I truly got it. 

Tootles and hugs,

 Click here to reread Emily's monologue.