A few years ago, a craze hit Kansas City. This fad consisted of “free garage sales”. No, for the smart-alecks among you, this did not entail getting a place to park your car at no charge. Instead, people would advertise on various at-the-time-fledgling social media sites, that they were having a yard, garage or house sale at which items could just be taken, not purchased.
I went to one such event. I’m an inveterate collector of objects owned by people before me. I like to reflect on the people who’ve held these items, cherished them, enjoyed them, and then, for reasons I can only imagine, let them go. The idea of getting to indulge myself in this proclivity for only the cost of gas to the location appealed to me no end.
At the house, I learned that the occupant had recently died. The “sale” was being held by her daughter. I wandered through the old bungalow, in south Kansas City, touching china, wood, fabric, and trying to picture the woman who no longer had need of them. I learned that her name had been “Margaret”. A good, old-fashioned name, that seemed to fit the flowered pillows, the scent of lilacs, and the satin pillow cases.
In a back room, on a shelf in a closet, I found a wooden box. I did not open it; I just claimed it. I took it downstairs, showed it to Margaret’s daughter, and received permission to take it. I left without selecting anything else, and took it home.
Sitting at my dining room table that evening, I finally opened the box. I discovered inside a rhinestone pin in the shape of the letter “M”. For Margaret, no doubt; but as my first name — which I don’t use — is “Mary”, it seemed only fitting that I should have this pin, and more so, that I should wear it.
I pinned it on a sweater without delay. Whenever I wore it, people who know me as “Corinne” would look at it with some puzzlement, and ask for what name it stood. My answer changed depending on my mood, but most often, I simply said, “Mother”.
This morning, I went downstairs, dressed, early, on my way for yet another session with my own personal, smiling, Dracula. I lifted the sweater from the back of the chair on which I had left it, and felt my stomach lurch. My pin was gone. I frantically searched but could not find it, nor was it in the car, or my office. My little pin had simple slipped back into the universe.
I found myself tempted, at first, to cluck, fret, and, well, complain that I had lost this pin. But I let that go. It’s out there, somewhere, sitting in a little crevice. I’ll think of it there; and I’ll think of Margaret. Perhaps someone will find my pin and then they, too, will contemplate an unknown woman who once proudly wore it. Perhaps they, too, will give a silly answer when someone asks for what the letter “M” stands. Or perhaps, like me, they’ll say, “Mother”, and smile.