Now that’s an attention grabbing title! Of course, you know if I had a Claude Monet to sell, I wouldn’t be worried about money or holding garage sales. Keeping reading and you’ll understand the Monet I am downsizing.
Today is the 15 year anniversary of my grandmother’s death. When I was younger the word grandmother or even grandma just didn’t sound like the word I, or anyone, called their grandmother. When I left for college and began writing her long distance letters, I started writing her name the way I said it. Grama. Been doing it ever since.
As a children, we visited her every summer and there were two places—right after the hugs and kisses and hellos—that we kids made a bee line for. First, the coffee cans in the pantry filled with her homemade treats of Chocolate Turtles, Kisses and Divinity. She raised three sons during the depression so even though her circumstances greatly improved, the habits she cultivated during the lean years never left her. Every old coffee can or margarine tub found other uses. She was green before green was even a thing.
The second place we ran to was a dressing table with its designated “girls’ drawer” and “boys’ drawer.” I have no memories what the boys’ drawer contained but the girls’ drawer was a treasure trove of empty bottles of perfume that still held their scent, tiny lipstick samples from Avon, scarves, bobby pins, combs and jewelry. More than anything I remember the jewelry. It wasn’t the cheap plastic kids play jewelry. Or maybe some of it was. But I remember it as hers. The stuff she no longer wore. Long strings of beads. Clip on earrings (since she never had her ears pierced). Jingly bracelets. And pins that she called brooches (she also called her couch a davenport).
As she got older Grama moved from the house where she raised her three sons. First she moved to independent senior housing in the same town. Next, to senior housing in the town where I grew up so my dad could keep an eye on her;. Then to senior housing where meals, laundry and weekly cleaning services were provided. Then to assisted senior housing. And finally, in the last months of her life, to an end of life care facility. With each move, her personal space got smaller. So with each move, she downsized a little more of her life. This meant with each move, her children and grandchildren received more of what she wanted us to have.
I have a lot of her things. I’m still trying to work through what to do with them as I transition into my new much physically-smaller life. Very little of this inheritance has a place in a fulltime RV life but much of it holds a big place in my heart. Therein lays the quandary.
I don’t think I’ve ever clarified this in these Downsizing posts, but in my mind there are two distinct categories. The ones I have written about and will continue to write about until I leave are the things I’m downsizing by getting rid of the items. The other category of downsizing might not technically be downsizing. These are items I won’t take with me on the road but which I simply cannot get rid of. I don’t, as yet, have a plan for what I’m going to do with these items. Many of these items came from my grandmother and I’m sure over time I’ll write about many of them.
She gave me quite a bit of jewelry but this post is about a few specific pieces, the ones I didn’t plan on keeping. These were the beaded necklaces and brooches. Truth be told, the ones that weren’t my style I got rid of long ago. Thus the scant photos. The photos show the pieces I kept and, over the years, would wear occasionally. All of it was on the table during last year’s garage sales.
I actually don’t have much to say about the specific items themselves. I often got complements when I wore the coral-colored necklace. We are not Jewish but the silver necklace was a gift to her written in Hebrew.
To pieces didn’t sell. As luck would have it, they were the two I liked best. In the photo, they are the two pins on the top row. The circle pin is the only one of the bunch I can specifically recall her wearing, always with a scarf. Never as a pin on a blouse or lapel. Whenever I wore it, I did the exact same thing.
The flower pearl one is Monet brand. So is the butterfly but I never liked that one for practical reasons. All those things poking out catch on hair, other people, my sleeves, etc. Monet is a well-known brand of vintage costume jewelry. You can find quite a bit of it on eBay, etsy and other online stores. If you are interested, I found this article about the history of Monet brand that is fascinating.
Like I said, those two didn’t sell at the garage sales. I ended up telling myself it must be a sign. And the two leftovers made their way back into my “keep” pile, tucked in a little box of pins inside the single jewelry box I downsized to. I’m not sure how many opportunities I will be presented with on the road for wearing pins, but you never know. That’s what I’m telling myself, how I justify taking them with me. I suppose it means I might have to bring a scarf or two as well. I haven’t started downsizing those drawers yet.
And if you were wondering, my sister ended up with our grandmother’s vanity. It is part of a full bedroom set, along with a bed frame and dresser, Grama received from her parents as a wedding gift when she married in 1930. It sits in storage for now, waiting for the day to be on display and its drawers filled again with treasure.