Since I last blogged, much of my life has been consumed with clearing out and relocating my husband’s lifetime collection of woodworking tools and equipment, camping equipment, sports equipment, books, records, collections and hobbies. He was a collector while I am more of a downsizer; not using it, get-rid-of-it type of gal.
When I consider my own stash, my collection of fabrics and equipment, my quilts and artwork, and what will become of it when I am gone, I primarily think that will not be my problem! Which in retrospect he likely shared that philosophy without ever publicly stating it. And yet I did not want to saddle myself or our daughter with a lifetime of his stuff, not being used, so I hired organizers to sort, clean, price, host an estate sale, relocate, donate and clean up afterwards. What a huge relief to have that taken care of.
So it is curious and odd to me that today I went to a quilters sale, at the library. I actually went twice because the area was so crowded with other adjacent weekend activities, that there was no parking anywhere, except maybe a mile out and at 92 degrees no way was I going to pack it in. So I came home and went back later towards the end of the sale.
When I walked into the room I saw many tables heaped with piles of picked through fabric. It was a bit overwhelming at first, until I developed a plan. I was only going to buy large pieces that I could use for quilt backs. I did find a few pieces of batik that others neglected to see and got those as well. And a gorgeous piece of handwoven Guatemalan cotton because I know better than to pass that up. On one of the tables in the back of the room, a small piece of orange cotton spoke to me. I picked it up and recognized it immediately. I had screen-printed that piece of fabric way back when I first started doing surface design, and the owner likely purchased it from me then, some of which she had used.
I filled a huge cotton shopping bag with cloth. It weighed in at 9 lbs, which cost me a paltry $45. I spoke briefly to the owner of this enormous stash, who sat there in her dementia and smiled but clearly did not know me, or why I was going through her stuff. And the whole episode just made me so sad.
Kathy was a master at making sensational pieced quilts for herself and others. It made me sad that her life’s work, was heaped in piles on tables in the library, pawed over and picked through. And yet so much remained. It made me sad that her two daughters are not only dealing with their remaining parent lost in the haze of dementia, but have this huge responsibility to relocate all that has brought her joy for the past 50 years.
I guess that was why it was imperative to me to go, even though it required two trips on a very hot Saturday. It was important to me to let them know I appreciated all they are doing for their mother, and that I see them.
After I got home and sorted through the haul, ever grateful for the cleanliness of the cloth, I thought about my own daughter and how it is imperative to me to use up as much as I can, while I can. The irony in all this is knowing when it is time to go through your own stuff. I believe my husband was unable to do so as it meant facing his own mortality. And a person with dementia is just plain unaware. So the mystery remains, when is the time to let go of some of your stuff so it does not become a burden for others? Of course my bringing more cloth into my studio today could have just added to that question but I do find consolation in that annually I go through my stash and donate some to a charity that specializes in textiles. Or perhaps for every bag brought in, another bag goes out philosophy?!
As my hubs used to always say (in reference to his job as a first responder), don’t leave a mess for someone else to clean up. Never was that more obvious than today.