My mother was a collector. She loved old jewelry, mostly old pins, which she would wear with great panache on coats, blouses, and even the occasional sweatshirt. There was hardly a day when she would leave the house when she wasn't wearing a large sash pin, or a small cluster of scatter pins. One of my last memories of mom was helping her pick out which one of her Christmas pins she would wear on the day she never lived to see.
In preparing to empty the house, which is somewhat like preparing to eat a herd of elephants, let alone one, with the help of my dear aunt and uncle, we bagged and inventoried her pins for auction.
We have counted over one thousand pieces of jewelry as of yesterday.
My mom never impulsively bought anything, for the most part. To think that over the years she inspected each and every piece she acquired is boggling. I can imagine her, standing in front of a glass case in some antique store, holding a pin or brooch that caught her eye. Not only would she examine the piece, turning it around in her hands, looking for hallmarks, noting the style of clasp which was a good indicator of age, she would envision where she would wear said pin; would it look nice on that denim blazer hanging in the back closet? The one that she planned to wear when the leaves turned the same amber shade as the stone in the piece in her hands?
She would then look at the price tag, question whether or not to but the item, as to which my dad would say to her, "Buy it." Dad would have never told her otherwise. Trite as it sounds, if my mom would have asked for the Moon, my dad would have found a way to give it to her.
This happened over a thousand times. I'm not even counting the other collections...the art deco jewelry caskets, the Nippon, the milk glass, the platters...
I have talked amongst family and friends, the torn feelings over dispatching with these items, how in some way we are selling pieces of my mom. Family member and close friends have been able to take some pieces home, pieces that spoke to them in some way. I have more than a few myself. Every time I hold them in my hands, I think about how my mom held them in hers, imagining the compliments she would gather like yet another collection.
But, practicality wins over sentimentalism, and as each piece of jewelry gets tucked inside a cardboard box, I imagine I am releasing a bit of my mom, for as much as she personified the jewelry she purchased, she was and is far more than a sum of all her things.