Entering the apartment was bittersweet. On the one hand Coleen wondered how someone could accumulate so many things – mostly useless – and not getting rid of some at one point in time. On the other, going through her aunt’s possessions was a clear indicator that she was no longer here. The pain of this would have been unbearable if Sabrina Williams hadn’t lived a full 103 years. She’d had a good life; she’d lived through two wars and seen the beginning of computers. She even had one, learned how to use it. It was buried underneath a pile of clothes from another era though.
How could Sabrina accumulate so many clothes, so many things? Coleen didn’t get that; she wasn’t one who believed in keeping things. Her own apartment had one thing: bookshelves. Books she would accumulate; they held knowledge, stories that fed her imagination. But things? She didn’t understand until she got through Aunt Sabrina’s stuff.
She’d kept her first communion dress in a box. It was yellowed with time, but otherwise in mint condition. Photos: boxes of them, from the 1910s to the 2000s. Taken by her father then by Sabrina herself. Jewelry. Family heirlooms dating back to the early 1750s and trinkets from a neighbouring flee market. Same with clothes: there was her wedding dress – a 1930s style off-white, and some evening dresses that would have been all the rage at the time. And some rags she might have worn every day for the past 20 years. The surprise came from the modelling magazines from the 1930s and 1940s: she’d actually made the cover of some even though she was in her late thirties. Coleen had no idea. Her aunt was a babe.
All in all, it took Coleen four weeks to go through the accumulation of wealth and worthless items. She found some family treasures her aunt had kept from everyone. She found stuff that she threw in the garbage with disgusted sounds. There were some paintings; some that would find their way to local galleries as donations – Coleen had no space in the apartment to keep them. Others that might be worth something.
In the end, she was amazed. So many memories. Sabrina had kept almost every moment in time. In order to know what she’d keep, Coleen decided that whatever meant something to her or to her sister, they’d keep. The rest, they’d sell. However else were they going to not accumulate stuff that they didn’t need?
There were two vintage rings Coleen knew she and Charlotte would like to keep: ones that Sabrina wore often. The first had an oval sapphire with diamonds mounted on a silver or white gold setting, which Coleen always loved. The other was a cushion ruby also surrounded by small diamonds on a yellow gold setting; it was Charlotte’s birthstone and though she didn’t get along so well with Sabrina, she’d like having the ring.
Coleen also kept Sabrina’s wedding pictures: she didn’t know anyone really, but Sabrina had written the names. So Coleen was pretty sure the baby in her great grandmother’s arms was actually her grandmother.
In response to Linda G Hill’s stream of consciousness Saturday prompt accumulate