All I had to do was go and pick them up.
I bundled Lucinda into the car and drove to a small, well-loved house in an unpretentious suburb. After a knock on the door, a frail old man showed me to his wife’s old sewing room.
She’d passed away very recently, after working from home as a dressmaker all her life. She had boxes upon boxes of supplies and equipment and he wanted it all gone.
I have no use for it now, he explained.
He went on to tell me about his wife and the life she’d lived. He showed me pictures of the couple on their wedding day -- her wearing a dress she’d created. They looked young and happy.
He told me about the things she liked to make and the clients she’d had over the years.Then, we carried the boxes to the car and he sent me on my way with a wave.
Back at home, I started unpacking and really started to see the treasures I’d uncovered. Boxes of threads, bindings, lace trimmings, buttons and beads. Thimbles and fasteners and zips and elastics.
A lifetime's worth of tools, carefully labelled Mrs Boyd.
In a box of patterns, there were envelopes addressed to Mrs Boyd at the same address I’d visited. They dated back to the days –many decades ago — when the local paper had operated a pattern service.
This woman had lived nearly her whole life in that home, sewing and stitching and creating and mending. Purely by chance, I’d been the lucky beneficiary of the pieces she’d collected along the way.
I still wonder about her. Was she fulfilled in her life? Did she want more? Less? Something different? They're questions that I will never know the answers to.
I gave away everything I didn’t plan to use to someone I knew who would. Now, after moving house again, I'm again discovering the lifetime’s accumulation of one woman’s work and thinking how best I can put it to use.
I didn’t know her, but I suspect she would have wanted that.