I have a dear artist friend who makes fabulous jewelry. Years ago I went with her to an artists’ fair one summer. There were soap makers, knitters, quilters, glass blowers, and so on. My friend’s beautiful jewelry was well-placed and looked wonderful in the sunshine.
My job was to help keep the table tidy, help with the customers and to handle the money when my friend was busy. Everyone seemed to stop at my friend’s table first, and the sales were going well. One woman kept picking up the same pair of peacock blue crystal earrings. I asked her if she wanted a mirror so that she could see how they looked on her.
She was probably in her mid-50’s, blonde and blue-eyed, and the earrings looked fabulous on her. The price was right as well, and I told her how good they looked on her.
She smiled and said, “well, I just love them, but where would I wear them?”
I asked, “Do you go to the grocery store?” She said that yes, she did.
I asked, “Do you go to the library?” She said that, yes, she did about once a week.
I asked, “Do you go out to lunch with friends?” She said that did about once every other week.
Then I said, “You can wear these beautiful earrings to the grocery store, to the library and to lunch with your friends. You can also wear them when you go out to dinner with your family. And you can also wear them just to please yourself.”
She looked gobstruck for a moment, and then laughed. She bought the earrings, and I told her to wear them with joy. This encounter reminded me of an article I read long ago about a woman to took her elderly mother to the shoe store.
When the daughter didn’t find her mother in the “matronly shoe” aisle, she went looking for her. To her great surprise, she found her mother sitting on a chair, admiring her feet, which were shod in turquoise platform shoes with shiny silver rivets over the toes.
“Mother!” she cried. “What on earth are you going to wear those with?”
Her mother looked up at her, smiled and said, “Defiance!”
I have always loved that story and the lesson of it; wear what you love with pride and joy.
In the days after we buried my wonderful grandmother, my mother and I were going through all of her things as my grandfather just couldn’t face it.
There in the bottom drawer of her dresser was a brand-new pair of black underwear trimmed in beautiful black lace. My mother and I looked at each other and laughed; then we both cried. My grandmother never got to wear them, and probably kept saying that they were saved for “best.” The “best” never came.
The lesson for me from that day was this: don’t wait; don’t put your fine things away and never wear or use them. Wear that fancy ruby ring your aunt left you, put on those tall buttery leather boots you bought on a whim, wear that delightful hat with the silk peonies around the rim.
Our treasures are meant to be used and loved. When we do this, we honor those who left us these precious bits of their lives. We can smile as we wear or use them, remembering on whose hand this ring graced, who served Christmas dinner on those lovely china plates, and who polished the heavy lead crystal chalice brought all the way from Ireland.
Enjoy these treasures now; each day can be a special occasion. Why wait?