I came from a long line of throw-away-ers, not collectors. My Scottish Grandmother Boster on my mother’s side was a practical pioneering woman who actually sewed the muslin covering to stretch over the ribs of a covered wagon before she and my grandfather lit out across the prairie from Missouri to homestead in Wyoming. There was no place for a “collection” hobby in a covered wagon or in the sod house they lived in once they got there. When I was a child I do remember her collecting string, which she wound into a great ball for tying bundles wrapped in paper or feed sack cloth. She also used the heavy cotton string to replace broken shoestrings, to attach to the kites she cut for us out of butcher paper, and to tie the trunk of the car down when it was full of suitcases or furniture. She taught me to play cat’s cradle with it and to use it to make a big circle on the sidewalk or wood floor for playing marbles.
My mother didn’t collect things either, and gave away anything she didn’t need and some things we did. To this day I wish she had kept the service for twelve of Eva Zeisel Town and Country dishes, which by now would have been worth a fortune. She also used what she had and was not one to “keep it for good.” She used her Nobility quadruple plate silverware, her china, her Miracle Made cookware, and her best linens. She lit candles and used real napkins on regular days, because she didn’t believe there were any regular days. She didn’t save things, including herself. She often said, “If I’m half-way through, I should be half used up—and if I’m not, what in the world am I saving myself for?”
Maybe from them I inherited the deep belief that “we have this moment—today,” and that God’s will for my life is God’s will for this minute. Mother often told me while I was growing up, “Do what you know to do today and do it with everything you’ve got. That’s God’s will for your life.”
If I have collected anything, it is art glass. This may have started when I was in grade school and my Grandmother Sickal, my father’s Irish mother, gave me a set of very thin and delicate lime green sherbet glasses. Since then I have collected some beautiful pieces of art glass, including a piece in sea colors Bill got when we visited the island of Murano in Venice, and two matching pieces (a heavy vase and huge platter) in all my favorite shades of yellow and gold that the gals in our Monday night Bible Study got me for Christmas one year.
But really, what Bill and I have collected together over the years has been people: funny quirky people, faithful friends, broken hearts, innocent children, the seasoned and wise, hopeful college kids, old farmers, dear widows who have survived enough pain to bend a weaker soul to the ground. Our lives have been so enriched by the folks who have crossed our path, sat at our table, ridden on our bus, been in our classes when we taught high school and college, and worked with us over the years. This collection is eternal, for only relationships will survive this life and open like a blossom into the next.