I have the best dad.

And not just because his parting words our last visit were “You’re looking a little skinny Jacq”. And he would know. He was the “guess your weight” guy for Conklins J.

I was visiting him yesterday when he received a call.

Picking up the phone in the Buscombe household can be a tense event around dinner time. Telemarketers have been harassing my parents in a way I’ve never quite seen anywhere else. Needless to say, my father doesn’t suffer fools (or telemarketers) gladly.

But this call was different.

He was patient, understanding, and funny. More importantly, he wasn’t telling anyone where to go and how to get there.

It wasn’t until after he hung up, that I found out that it was a friend of his who was dying.

I learned a little about compassion that night. And as life often does, I was tested the next day.

I received a call from a very sweet lady who had left some clothes on consignment with me a couple times over my first year of business.

Consignment for me is a love/hate relationship. I love all the amazing things that walk through the door.

But I’m telling ya, consignment is a LOT of work. Ask Miranda, my co-op student. It’s been one week and I’m pretty sure she thinks this vintage store thing is nothing but:

  1. washing other people’s clothes
  2. steaming other people’s clothes
  3. taking photos of other people’s clothes
  4. pricing other people’s clothes
  5. emailing photos of other people’s clothes
  6. placing photos on the internet of other people’s clothes
  7. contact people when their clothes sell
  8. Getting folks to take back their clothes. This one is the trickiest J

Back to the sweet lady. She had dropped some things off last week, but was calling this week to suggest that perhaps people didn’t have the same taste as her, and might she pick up her items.

Now, my initial thought was, “Miranda and I just did steps 1 – 6 two days ago. For nothing?”

Thankfully, I had my father’s conversation still fresh in my mind, and decided to do more listening and less talking.

As it turns out, my lady (which is what I call her now) is facing an uncertain future.

After 84 years of wonderful health is which she was an active antique dealer, carrying on the hobby her and her husband shared for almost 60 years, she was now in her 86th year and comtemplating her legacy.

She was preparing to leave her home, and had already begun the process of parting with her belongings.

She told me how shocking it was when her health started to deteriorate. How grateful she was for her many loving and supportive friends. How grateful she was for those 84 years of perfect health.

She wasn’t someone who was calling to waste my time.

She was calling to make sure I was the right place for her treasures to go. A place where they’d find a new owner who loved them as much as she did.

So instead of having a woman sized baby tantrum, I thought of my dad, and did the right thing.

Responding with patience and compassion, the way my dad had shown me, I spent a small portion of my day assuring her that at the very least, I loved her treasures as much as she did.  I would keep them safe and make sure they went to a good home.

But more than anything, I hope I got across to her that I was listening. That her story mattered to me. That we shared a value: appreciating beautiful things for their timeless quality.  That I heard what she was saying: friends and health – nothing else matters.

So on September 30th, the day of my father’s birth, I’d like to celebrate all the lessons he’s taught me over the years. He’s taught me more than I probably realize about compassion, love and acceptance. And I really couldn’t ask for a more wonderful man to be my father.

Go Bills Go!

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