Sunday, July 28, 2013

One Black Sweater

Years ago when I first heard of estate sales and the incredible things you could find at them, I was a little creeped out.  Digging through the remains of someone's life seemed disrespectful to me and something I wasn't sure I wanted to participate in until a friend said to me, "If you died and your family took what they wanted, wouldn't you want the rest to go to somebody who would appreciate it?"

Yes, I would like that and so I started going to estate sales.

One summer afternoon I set foot in a charming cape cod and made my way through the house.  I am a methodical estate shopper.  I like the basement and garage first.  I am not after fine antiques or name-brand furniture.  I am attracted to the rusty-what-the-heck-is-this kind of castoffs that live in the dark.

I made my way upstairs into a bedroom full of linens.  I have never been a linen shopper at estate sales.  I remember the days of my childhood when my mother ironed dad's white shirts five days a week, six kids in uniforms with white shirts and the pillowcases for eight heads.  She would sweat over that ironing board every day and the hangers would fill the clothes rack.  When I see a stack of linens it makes me think of the thankless job my mom did for all those years, and so I take a pass on the embroidered penance.

Amongst all those folded linens on a make-me-an-offer bed was a small vintage, black sweater with pearl buttons.  It looked like it would fit but was a little pricey for an estate sale - $12.00.  It was also cashmere.  I had never bought clothing at an estate sale before and a lengthy argument ensued within regions of my brain as to whether this was a good idea.  The Catholic guilt side was telling me that buying a dead woman's sweater was some kind of sin.  The other side wondered where that sweater had been.  Did you go over a fancy party dress and dance the night away?  A luncheon with lady friends?   Perhaps packed into a suitcase for a vacation in Europe?  Were you worn in mourning?  Was your price tag so expensive that kids had to pool their money together to buy it for their mom?   Were you amongst many things of beauty in the closet of this woman who had great taste?

I told the Catholic guilt side to hush up and laid my money down.

That was more than ten years ago.  Since then I have worn it over a party dress, to a luncheon, in Spain, at funerals and everywhere in between.  It is showing its age now and so I wear it over my nightgown in the winter in place of a bathrobe.  It stays on a hook right inside the closet door - at the ready on those first cold mornings

That one black sweater I brought home so long ago is the only article of clothing I've ever purchased at an estate sale.  It is the guardian of a thousand stories............and what a treasure it's been to be the caretaker of a few of them.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful Story !
    I admire your capacity to cherish a memory,
    and make even more for the past 10 years.