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My great grandmother Laura died at 103.5 but she still hadn’t lived long enough to use her best hankies.

I was shocked to find this pack of 3, pristine in their original package, in her home when we were doing the dead-woman-plunder. I get weak for anything white-on-white, for hand drawn type, and for embroidery of any sort. These are exquisite and I can sort of understand why she wouldn’t want to blow her nose in them. Perhaps they deserve framing, but they also need to be touched.

They are very, very dead. They’ve never lived — never been loved — only admired. This innocence, these handkerchiefs and handmaidens, must have been part of her trousseau from her first marriage. You can still see the pencil tracery that guided the needle on the purple one.

Great Grandma Laura didn’t break out this last set when she married, when she had a child, when she lost a child. She didn’t use them when her daughter married. She didn’t need their comfort when her husband died, leaving her with his business to run, or when her grandchildren were born. She didn’t cry into them any time when she remembered anything or listened to music. By the time she remarried, and certainly by the time her second husband died, Kleenex were “the thing.” Perhaps by then these orphans of her trousseau had been forgotten on a high shelf.

I wonder, what was she waiting for? Were they holy? Something the world shouldn’t sully? Did she admit that humans need to cry? (Not likely — she had a sort of empathy deficit).

Or was she just the most extreme “stuff” person ever?

More important… what am *I* going to do with them? Marjorie Merriweather Post framed one of her mother’s embroidered purses, and it wasn’t nearly this nice. Are these exquisite, labored on for hours (probably by Chinese children, then as now) antiques too good for my family’s boogers?

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