Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dear Ethel

A few weeks ago I went to my cousin's dance recital in Minneapolis. She was the best of course and we went out to have a Coke and celebrate and that was when I encountered Ethel. Sitting on a table at the gas station was her auction bill with a date for this past Saturday. As I read over the listing I couldn't help but feel like I would really like Ethel. I decided that I was going to that auction. Several hours, a sunburn and a nice drive later I returned home with several purchases of inspiration for new jewelry. If I was writing Ethel, this is what I would say...

Dear Ethel,
One glance at your auction bill could tell anyone you were a lady of many loves. The trailers of doilies, china dolls, paintings, music, glass and linens attest to this on a hot Saturday in May. And while your things tell many stories of your life, the people gathered around have told me even more.
As I delicately sorted through your fine rhinestone pins and pierced earrings a friend of yours explained your love for jewelry. "Ethel always wore it," she said smiling, "even when she didn't feel well, you could always count on Ethel wearing her jewelry." Many spoke of your incredible kindness and love for Christ. And as I directly and indirectly picked up information about you I thought, this woman has lived life well. Touching as many others in the process as possible. Did you know you have stories from teaching that are still being told? Did you know you are "the favorite aunt"? I spent some of the time at your auction wondering what of these things were your favorites. I wondered if this was my auction if I would want to know what happened to some of my things. I wondered if you wanted to know what I was going to do with the things I purchased. As I went through the treasures I found I thought of all the loving care with which you had removed every button collected, un-stitched every zipper saved and I want you to know that I will love these things as much as you did. I will never again search for a button or the perfect zipper because i have a lifetime supply. I sorted each zipper into a little basket in my studio falling in love with a few favorites. I spent time taking each button and sorting them by color and material. The buttons you saved are simply un-matched by any I've ever seen before and I can not thank you enough for saving them. I am so grateful for your collection that you shared with me and I am anxious to turn some of them into beautiful jewelry that I too wear everyday. And somehow, though it makes me sad for you to think of all the things sold at that auction, I feel as though I met you a little bit that day and I feel as though we are friends. I promise you my dear friend Ethel, I will be a safe home for your years of collecting. It will not be in vain.

With a thankful heart for yours,


  1. Jill,

    What a sweet have your mother's gift of writing. I think you should send this to the paper to be published...was the auction from around here? It is beautiful.

  2. Hey Bekka, I just realized there were comments on the blogs! So sorry it's taking forever to respond! The auction was in Miltonvale. it was a ton of fun! Love you guys!