What We Hold On To

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.

Miniature folk art chairs from Pat’s collection

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.

Pat’s chairs with a World War I Soldier Bear and a Tracy Gallup Man in the Moon doll.

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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4 Responses to “What We Hold On To”

  1. Virginia Munroe | January 12th, 2013 @ 11:29 am

    Dear Jean, I was glad to meet you at the New Braunfels Antique Show. And I think your booth and blog stunning! I will get in touch with Edyth about the possiblity of getting the right fabric for your quilt repair. But remember that she is in the early stages of grief, and it may take a little while. If she doesn’t have it, she is in a national doll making group, that could give some help. Do check out her blog–Edyth O’Neil–“My Red Cape”. Keep in touch with me. Love, Virginia Munroe

  2. Virginia Munroe | January 12th, 2013 @ 11:33 am

    I tried leaving a message to you about the quilt in your “What We Hold On To” response section. I hope you get it. Please let me know if you got it. Virginia Munroe

  3. Jean Compton | January 12th, 2013 @ 9:52 pm

    Dear Virginia, I did get your message. Thank you so much for visiting my web gallery and for your kind comments. I so enjoyed meeting you and chatting with you at the show yesterday. And I look forward to meeting Edyth whenever it’s convenient for her. We will definitely stay in touch. My best, Jean

  4. Karen | December 10th, 2013 @ 11:44 pm

    We all get to choose what we hold on to and what we let go. Thank you, that is what I needed to hear today. Thank you for the lovely way you told the story of Pat and the moral behind it.

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