Saving Our Lives For Later?

Saving Our Lives For Later?


Saving Our Lives For Later?

One of the tragedies I would encounter on a regular basis as an Estate Jeweler was looking at gorgeous, incredibly made jewelry………that was seldom or NEVER worn.
The nervous relative would be standing in front of me, anxious for an appraisal and dollar value of their Great Aunt Barbara’s treasures. I would carefully open old, leather, fitted boxes, revealing that hint of her Shalimar.
Inside, I would find a stunning Art Deco diamond bracelet, carefully wrapped in Kleenex. Or strands of vintage pearls, still in their original black cloth pearl folders. Splendid Victorian era, carved hard stone rings, Georgian mine cut diamond earrings, all meticulously cared for, wrapped up and stored away. 
It’s easy to tell if a piece has been worn a lot. It has all the tell tale scratches, the worn clasp, the abraded stones that go along with being “well loved” as we so delicately put it. Unfortunately, much of the jewelry that relatives walked in with, had been locked up in safes or safe deposit boxes. Aunt Barbara had tucked it away for a special occasion. From the looks of most of them, that occasion had never come.

Unfortunately, I do that too. Don’t you?
Why do we do that? It’s really so sad. Why are we saving our lives for later?
Did we get it from our parents?
Some of them lived with all the furniture covered in plastic. The sofa frame would wear out before the fabric. That’s crazy.
We had a living room that may as well have had red ropes around it. Or caution tape. We were not allowed past the perimeter. A whole room in the home of a family of five, that was off limits.
What a luxury. What a waste. What the hell.

I recently found a beautiful dress in the dark recesses of my closet. I have worn it maybe twice. There it was, hiding in its garment bag, waiting to be shown off again. Trouble is, I’ve waited too long. It’s slightly out of style, meaning it’s too young for me now, and it’s become too small. Shit. I hate it when clothes mysteriously shrink. I love that dress. Why didn’t I just wear it more.
What was I waiting for? An invitation to high tea? Dinner with George Clooney?

We save all our good books for summer, for the flight and vacation we never take.
That fate has also befallen many a bikini. I’ve given away several with the tags still on.
We save the “good coffee” for the weekend. 
The “good dishes” for……never.
We save being happy until we have more zeros in our bank accounts, and less on our bathroom scales.
We save the good bottle of wine for a special occasion, the champagne for a celebration.
We save good towels for company, tax refunds to pay bills and compliments for birthday cards.
We gotta stop doing this!

I’ll never forget this story. My friend’s Uncle Saul finally retired. After 47 years at the same job, he was anxious to start his life. He was an avid golfer and an aspiring photographer. After he booked a trip to Scotland, he splurged on expensive new clubs and a brand new fancy camera, complete with all the lenses he would never let himself afford. Yep, you know where this is headed. Uncle Saul died in his bowl of Wheaties, three weeks before his trip. When my friend went to clean out the apartment, she was overwhelmed with sadness. Among the piles of unread books and un-opened film, were his spiffy new golf clubs and his never been used camera in its fitted shoulder bag. On the desk were the plane tickets. He died with 1.5 million dollars in the bank. Why? He was 78. He waited too long to start his life.
That marked me. I had to make some changes.

My own way of living before I die, started right away.
Being in the estate business for so long, I have collected a couple of mismatched sets of silver flatware. Okay; I have enough to set a dinner party at Downton Abbey. Then my husband came along with some of his mother’s.
One day after using it all for a holiday dinner, I was carefully washing and drying it by hand, as you must do, before I could return it to its special felt lined chest.
As I admired the intricacy of the design and the substantial weight of the knife in my hand, I said: “Fuck it.” Probably out loud. “I’m going to use these every day.”
I ordered the special felt that keeps them from tarnishing and lined the silverware drawer. Now for almost fifteen years, we have used that beautiful silver for every meal. Even pizza. When I use it, I feel special and that’s the point.
It does demand to be treated like Royalty. It can’t go in the dishwasher and truth be told, it does tarnish. It’s a commitment. The tips of the forks tines are always black. It will never be shiny bright like stainless. I like that. I’m sure it horrifies some people. 
I do cringe every time I tighten screws with it, loosen lids, open packages and pry stuff apart. 
It’s living a 21st century life. My life.
I refuse to save it for later.

Tell me, are you saving your life for later? Or have you started to use the good towels? I’d love to hear your story.


  • Homi says:

    So true….
    Definitely passed down from our moms?
    For me ,my mom had such different standards for guests! I always envied them.
    As an adult & mother we use everything everyday.
    We are the special guest @ our home:)

    • jbertolus says:

      I think so too. I’ll think I’ve overcome all the neurosis of a previous generation, then something will rear it’s head. Like this one. I try to wear all my good jewelry and the nice shoes, but sometimes…..
      love you Homi,

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