Posted January 6, 2013
Some years ago, over dinner at the home of friends, I met a woman named Pat. She arrived with a friend and, with his help, walked slowly, aided by crutches under each arm. Had she been in an accident? As we began chatting, I asked her that very question.
Pat shook her head. She was recovering from bone cancer, she told me, after undergoing a bone marrow transplant. “If they can find a good match,” she explained, “they basically nuke your bone marrow and drain it out. And if that doesn’t kill you, you have a chance.”
That evening I learned that Pat had a home just a few streets from mine but had moved back home with her mom while she recovered. When I told Par that I was an antiques and folk art dealer, she brightened and said, “I have a house full of folk art, and I’m having a huge sale a few weeks from now to help cover my medical expenses. You should come.”
So I did. The morning of the sale eager buyers formed a line from Pat’s doorstep to more than halfway down the block. She sat on the porch, smiling and greeting friend and strangers alike as we filed through the front door into the treasure trove that was Pat’s home. Room after room was filled with handcrafted boxes, baskets, pottery and jugs, paintings, carvings, tramp art, folk art — all the things I love and collect — from folk-y to funky to fine.
Among the pieces I chose that day were two miniature folk art chairs, which I still treasure. By the time I left, the crowd had thinned but Pat was still sitting on the porch, crutches nearby. I stopped to tell her what a treat it was to see her collection — and couldn’t help but say, “Isn’t it hard, though, to part with all your wonderful things?” Her eyes sparkled as she leaned forward and chortled, “You should see what’s stashed upstairs — all the stuff I held back for myself!”
I’m sorry to say that I don’t know what happened to Pat after that, as I soon moved away. But I always seem to think of her as one year ends and another begins.
And I remember what she taught me. No matter what happens in our life, we all get to choose what we hold on to … and what we let go.
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