A Teddy Bears Tea Party
We were given the honour this week to take care of a loved ones life long collection of Bears and Teapots. I never really know from week to week what we will be asked to view or look at, and I have to say this one has touched my heart.
My reaction when I first walked through the house, into the lounge room full of teddy bears was of pure amazement. This was a first for me, we always treat these jobs with dignity and thoughtfulness, this was someone's home and loved possessions and you could tell how much she had loved them. When they didn't all fit on the couches she had some sitting on pretty boxes on the floor at different heights, they were loved and given a place in her home.
I'm a big believer in surrounding yourself with the things that you love, if it doesn't affect your life in an unhealthy way then go with what makes you happy and I believe this lady truly loved her collection you could feel it.
All I could feel as I walked and looked through the house was warmth and love. Her family was left with one of the hardest decisions to make, of what to do with all her possessions, as it was not just teddy bears that she collected it was teapots as well. It had been some months since she had passed, so no decision was made in haste. The lady had no children and no husband and the sisters were left to find a solution and places for all her belongings.
When I had my first meeting with the sisters I was a little hesitant, I had initially told them I didn't deal in teddy bears and often we gave them away to the well behaved children when they where leaving the store. Its counter productive to reward children before they have proven their behaviour, we like to surprise them on the way out. Of course then I really had no idea that the teddy bears were so popular, I still have so much to learn and after meeting with the ladies I had agreed to meet up with them that afternoon.
When a loved one passes like this you are left with the responsibility and the many hard decisions of what to do with their possessions. You can have a garage sale but this can be intrusive, your loved ones items are rifled through and disrespected and it can be very disheartening to watch. You could sell the items individually but this could take months of dealing with many strangers and can become a very draining full time job. Charities are great and have their place, but in this instance it wasn’t what they wanted to do, it can be hard work, you still have to pack everything up and it can feel a little unfulfilling. Watching someone's loved possessions boxed up and sent to charity can feel so sudden and hollow.
This is where we come in, you won't get as much monetary value as you would if you sold it yourself but you will have other things that are priceless. We will come in and help you pack the items up. We will talk and laugh and sometimes even cry and it can create a more heartfelt experience for you, we will treat the items with loving care and give them the respect that they deserve. We feel privileged to be invited into someone's home and given an insight into their past life, this is something we don’t take lightly and we appreciate how hard it is for the loved ones left behind and the memory of the family member needs to be held with upmost respect.
Now I don’t always have people on hand to help me and I have to make sure that the people coming in with me to certain pick ups understand how to treat the items. So I called upon my good friends husband Don Gaske to help me and I roped in my Dad.
I gave them the heads up on the job, but one can never really prepare for such thing. I laid awake that night thinking of several ways to transport these Teddy Bears in the dusty truck and the only good solution I could come up with that would protect these gorgeous bears was sadly garbage bags...
We had made a deal that there was a lady that lived over the road that had been promised a bear, and we said that if she didn’t get a chance to select a bear before the morning she could come up to vintage roads and pick one out.
Well you can only imagine the next morning driving up to the house and watching this little old lady high tailing across the lawn with a teddy bear. Don had exclaimed 'we have an escapee' which had made me laugh and smile. But we were prepared for that one :D
So after reversing the truck up and getting ready we entered the house and I only wish I could have taken a photo of the look on my dad and Dons face. They just couldn’t believe it, it was like a teddy bears tea party. So I gave them a run down of what we had to do and we started with the lounge room full of Teddy Bears. I had to explain to the girls that I was very sorry that we were going to have to put the Teddy Bears in garbage bags, it was understandable that it had to be done but still at first mention the look of horror on the poor ladies faces.
We then went onto packing up the teapots, the process with packing up these things can be very important therapeutic to the family. As we are packing up the items we laugh and reminisce they would recognise items and tell stories and be amazed at what they didn’t know she had.
Now we are always fair with these things so as we are packing up there are always keepsakes that are then found and put aside. Its not until you start packing that you end up finding things that mean something to you and its important that these things stay in the family.
Even packing up the kitchen was exciting, a life time of gathering and collecting one of the items we found was a Pyrex casserole dish in perfect condition, yellow with a sunflower on the lid. The ladies really couldn’t understand why I was so excited but it made them laugh. There were some beautiful trios that had clearly been used in her day to day to life. It was like a Jigsaw puzzle working out what went with what and by the time we left they had felt like a big weight had been lifted off their shoulders.
Back at the shop we spent two days constantly unpacking and pricing and stacking the shelves, with the beautiful collections. The customers are loving them and it has been bringing joy to everyone coming through the shop.
I had a customer come in yesterday because they heard we had new teapots in and they left with not only four new teapots but a much loved teddy bear. They had said that they would not normally buy a teddy bear for themselves however they had always wanted one of these settler bears when they were growing up and it was always out of reach. She couldn’t bear leave the shop without one.
I cant tell you how happy it will make the family to see the delight on the faces of the customers. For someones much loved collection will continue to bring joy to new homes and new families.
“No Bears were harmed in the making of this story”