Sunday, October 23, 2011

Remembering Helen

Being the junk junkie that I am, I often watch the online listings for estate sales, hoping there might be something close by. A few weeks ago I came across an listing for a sale to be held in my little town. I was excited to see something so close to home...little did I know.

The night before, while talking with a friend, I mentioned my plans for the next day, which included attending this particular estate sale. She was interested in going along, and so we rounded up a few more friends and decided to meet there bright and early in the morning. But...just where was 'there'? Because addresses are not typically announced until the night before a sale, I had no idea. Upon checking, I was shocked to find that the estate sale was being held on the farm of my closest neighbor. 

 Early Sewing Roll

Helen passed last fall, leaving a big old house filled with wonderful things she had collected in her 95 years. I'd like to say I knew Helen well. I didn't. For instance, I didn't know Helen had a degree in Home Economics...or that she was an accomplished seamstress and weaver. I didn't know Helen had once been interested in fashion design and had notebooks filled with fashion sketches. I wish I had known. It makes me sad that I didn't "stop by" with her more. I think Helen and I would have been friends. 

Helen was born right down the road and lived in the same house most of her life. And even in her nineties, she was sharp..and funny. We did have some amusing exchanges during the time I've lived in her neighborhood.

In nice weather Helen sat on the screen porch...she always waved when I passed by on foot or bicycle. We commiserated over our predicament with the skunks who had taken up residence under our respective porches...and plotted how we could be rid of them, once and for all. 

When our orange tabby came up missing I walked to Helen's searching for him. She was in her familiar spot on the back porch, and inquired if my cat would come if she called his name. "What IS his name?", Helen asked. When I replied, "Fido, his name is Fido.", Helen chuckled, and with a mischievous smile quipped, "No wonder he ran away!"

So when I found out the sale was at Helen's house, it felt a little strange. In the end, I'm glad I went though...
Several of Helen's family member's were there, selling coffee to ward off the morning chill and benefit the Three Creeks Historical Association, of which Helen was a lifelong member. They had already been inside and taken the things that meant the most to them. And it was fun to see the things Helen had saved and collected...and to imagine her coming down the wide stairway as a young girl. The same young girl who went off to college and who designed and sewed the dresses hanging in the closets upstairs. 

 I was thrilled to find this very early sewing roll among the doll clothes in an upstairs bedroom. Just look at the wonderful fabrics.

I came home with some wonderful things...I couldn't help myself. I love knowing the history behind these things. I love knowing they belonged to Helen, and in some small way I think she would like it too. 


  1. Hi Rhonda,

    What a special story about an amazing woman! I'm sure she enjoyed all those little "chats and waves" she exchanged with you and no doubt would be smiling to know that you are now the proud owner of some of her treasures!!
    The sewing roll is really beautiful, and even more so because of the hands that lovingly created it and used it all those years!
    She would be happy to know that what she loved is now in the hands of someone who will continue to cherish it, as I know you will!
    Enjoy each one!

  2. Lovely post, wonderful sewing roll. You were probably more of a friend to her than you realize, she did probably enjoy your chats. I'm sure it would please her to share her love of fabric and creation with you!

  3. Beautiful post.You should print it and give it to her family.Such a fond remembrance.I'm sure they would love the reflection.Warm Blessings!~Amy

  4. I agree with Amy at Bumble Bee Lane, that would be very nice!

  5. Rhonda, What a wonderful post!!! Just to go through her home, wow... I too enjoy estate sales, yet I find them so sad at the same time... all the memories.... Loving the etsy vintage halloween...might need one! OLM

  6. Such a bittersweet story!
    I enjoyed reading it.
    Maks one think!

  7. Beautiful post Rhonda - and GORGEOUS sewing roll...I do hope you show us more of Helen's treasures that found their way home with you....(And, exactly, why DID you name your kitty FIDO???) ;o) Smiles & Sunday Hugs ~ Robin

  8. What a beautiful post in tribute to Helen's life. She would have been a wonderful person to get to know and to talk to about all the things she learned in her full
    life. I have always wondered what the early sewing rolls and needle books looked like. Thank you so much for posting the pictures of it. What a treasure for you.

  9. Morning Rhonda...What a neat post.I think that you walked away with more then a beautiful sewing roll..It is to bad taht you and Helen didn't become kindred spirits it sounds like you would have liked each other a lot!

    Have a Great week!


  10. How nice that you could go and get some things to remember her by. Very lovely post :D

  11. Thanks so much for sharing such a lovely post! It's always a gift to be allowed in someone's home ~ to see a bit of a person in the place they loved best. I'm so lucky to have seen your lovely sewing roll in person. So many stories are held in that fabric. Maybe scraps from her fashions?
    Blessings, Patti

  12. What a wonderful post Rhonda!! Love the sewing roll. What a beautiful remembrance of Helen.

    Enjoy your day~Becky