Lizzie was an aging Native
American woman of the Ponca tribe. Her family was all grown with children
and grandchildren of their own. She lived a quiet life in a very nice
section of her little town. She had one unmarried daughter who lived with
her not so much to care for her but simply as a companion. Lizzie didn't
need care. She was typical of the elder folks of the tribe who would live
their lives fully, up until the last moment.
She always called her children
'sister' or 'brother' just as when they were children. "Sister, don't
forget tomorrow is my garage sale day!"
Her daughter did not have to
be reminded of this weekend ritual. It didn't matter that her mother had
oil royalties, a home paid off, lease money coming from her land, and a
frugal spirit, which lent her no chance of spending any part of her more
than adequate income.
"I never forget
Mother," came the dutiful daughter's response. She had a career and
worked as a bookkeeper all week long. To be able to sleep in one day was
only possible if it was pouring rain or a blowing blizzard.
"Mama, I was just
wondering, aren't you tired of picking up those pieces of red glass. You
would think you had enough of it."
"I just like it,"
came the little Indian woman's quietly stated polite reply. "And
besides, mind you, I found a creamer and sugar bowl last week."
"Oh yes, you did. Well
then, by all means, we must go tomorrow," her daughter, sighed.
Lizzie walked slowly and
methodically up to each table in every garage of one after another of the
homes where the sales were held. If she was slow in her pace, and a little
unsteady because of her failing eyesight, this did not deter her search.
"Well hello! It is good
to see you out, Lizzie," someone or other would greet her. She had
lived in the little town or out from it since she was just a girl, and
although, many of the folks her age were gone, she still had an
acquaintance with a large number of the citizens there. Her daughter would
tell you that this was the real reason her mother walked these garage
sales while, picking out her red glass with a sharp eye.
Week after week, year after
year, and she always continued her search. She was pretty well complete as
to her owning a matched set. She had water pitchers, plates, cups and
saucers, all parts of a set of dishes, even to candle holders. They were
all in that dark blood red color. At the end of her life the little china
closet stood totally full of the lovely red dishes.
Now this same china closet
stood in one of Lizzie's granddaughter's home. The very old antique closet
holding the dishes was quite accepted since it had been almost like a
member of the family, always there.
The granddaughter's now
visited about many things, their children, good times, hard times and what
they had gone through to raise their own children who also now had
children of their own.
"You like my new
sofa," one of the women asked.
"Why, of course, but
where on earth did you get the money to buy it?"
"I didn't, I borrowed the
"You did, and pray tell,
what did you use for collateral?" One of the sisters wanted to know.
The woman's sisters were
aghast. "What? You do not mean it. I can't believe it."
With cool aplomb the sister
stated, "Oh yes, I've used them for years for collateral. This
glassware is quite an object for collectors. They are the kind of dishes
made a beautiful red by the use of gold in the glass when it is hot. I've
even used them to buy a car," came the matter of fact answer.
One of the sisters responded
with, "I only have one thing to say, I am so proud of you. I know
Gramma Lizzie would have been equally as pleased. Wasn't she a special
"You know," the
older sister, continued, "I don't feel so foolish about collecting my
amber glassware. I started with that after I read how amber was washed
ashore from out of the ocean. It is a kind of a resin, which supposedly
holds an electrical charge. The Latin word for amber is electrum. Of
course, I don't collect it for that purpose.
The whole idea of collecting
is more tied up with the memory of Gramma Lizzie's collecting. I often
wonder if she knew what she was doing bringing the pieces together in a
set or was it just that she loved the beautiful red color as I love the
amber color? I'm sure the pieces I have are not really amber. Somehow,
this is the important thing, the memory.
Of course, there is another
memory involved and that is of a grandmother on Dad's side, Gramma Bell's
mother, Elizabeth Ann Collins. She, I'm told, loved amber as well. Gramma
Bell told me about that when I used to ask her about the amber colored
glass doorstop which looked like a big piece of resin not unlike the resin
she used to resin her violin bow strings."
There was a quiet gentle
spirit of love upon the room and on the women too. They all could feel it.
They left their visit with renewed energy not from something as fragile as
glass, but from a deeper respect and understanding of the great love of
the women who went before them.