Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sixty Years in an Envelope

My grandmother died in April and her estate auction was this past Saturday. After a LOT of hard work from three of her four children and with the help of a professional auctioneer, it is officially over. I was privileged, due to having an amazing, fantastic, killer husband who waved good-bye while I got to drive of into the sunset sans kids to Virginia for the auction, to go.

At first it was overwhelming. My beloved grandmother's entire life was out on display for anyone and everyone to come and touch, look at, rifle through and bid on. The family took out a lot of the more precious things (most of the things from when she was a child in Africa, her piano, etc.), but there was still tables and tables of treasure from multiple generations of family members. The woman saved everything.

At one point I had to stop and just cry and get it all out; fortunately there were enough of my mother's friends there for support and my stepfather offered his shoulder for me to blubber on like a five year old. It was all too much. Then I decided to get into the game and get a couple of things that I had not even known existed, but would be neat mementos to have.

The first was a flat steamer trunk that still had the stickers with my great grandfather's name and address on it from when he and his young family traveled to Sierra Leone to live as missionaries. It has been well used, so was not worth a lot monetarily, but was worth a lot to me.

The last was a twin of a necklace that my mother gave me to wear on my wedding day from Jerusalem. My Grandmother had bought them and had hers tucked away in her jewelry box. Now I have one to pass along to each of my daughters.

In between the two items were a couple other things, but the real treasure came later. Early in the day, I noticed a bunch of old envelopes being eyed by a couple people. Since nothing of that nature was supposed to be sold (pictures or anything with addresses on it), I grabbed them up and stuck them in my mother's car before they were bid on.

Being deemed the family historian years ago due to my love of history and genealogy, I was given the box to look through. Mostly it contained old greeting cards and the like saved by my great grandmother. One envelope however immediately caught my eye. It was postmarked 1948 from Sierra Leone, Africa addressed to my great grandmother. Inside there was a two page letter from the head nurse at the mission where was my great grandfather was the pastor.

My great grandfather was an avid photographer as well as a pastor who was killed by lightening in Sierra Leone in the early 30's. Several years ago I had been given a ton of the copies of the shots he had taken in Africa and I sat down with my grandmother to get the scoop on each picture. A few of them included Norma, the previously mentioned head nurse at the mission and author of the letter.

I had taken all the pictures and information gathered from my grandmother and made them into an album for Christmas for her one year. In this letter it talked about several of the people in the album and what had become of their lives (including my grandmother's best little African girlfriend). It was a thrilling find, especially since I have pictures of almost all the people mentioned in the letter.

Overall it was a good day and some of the rare finds she had saved brought in a pretty penny for the estate, but it was a tough one I certainly would not want to repeat anytime soon.


Mrs. Sam said...

Good for you brave one! Sometimes we just do it eh? It sounds like a heart break of a day, but a gem too. It's amazing to think that all those years ago, God knew that cross would be for your daughter...hmmmmmmmmmmm, makes you think.

Renae said...

Thank you for sharing these precious memories. May you be strengthen by the peace of the Lord as you remember your godly heritage.