The room where John is resting is decorated and colored based on ideas from our Antique Nippon Collection. Several of you have commented on the various sides of John’s personality. It is true that John has always had the energy to maintain several interests. One interest of John's that some of you may not realize (although all the antique dealers out there will know of this side of him of course) is his love for antiques.
John has always collected and maintained a collection of vintage sheet music. When I dated him it worked out great because we were both night owls and he had a nightly routine of listing or going through piles of sheet music. It worked out for us because I was always up with him doing something-studying, reading or laughing with him as we went through several of the lyrics of earlier times. As I had grown up in an antique shop with an antique dealer mother and a father who was an avid collector, collecting anything and everything, this kind of activity was something I was accustomed to and which I enjoyed. John and I had many trips to New Orleans in those early days which always culminated in dragging back sheets of music.
I should have clued in those first days together that he had that real “collector” personality and mentality, especially since I had spent all of my childhood days with collectors and characters of all sorts who were typically engaged in the “chase” for that last one piece or article!
So what of Nippon? Let me tell you that I had no idea how much I’d come to know about it or experience it. Early on I took John to an antique shop - being pretty excited that he liked old things, as most of the guys my own age had little interest in older things. John, I’d find, would never get bored despite hours in dusty old shops or out at garage sales or auctions. I was pretty pleased!
One day John asked me what type of china or glass he might consider collecting given the vast potential selection. At the time I suggested Nippon, because although we both loved Victoriana and cranberry glass and art glass it was expensive and hardly the thing to start collecting “bargain wise”. I anticipated that Nippon hand painted china had the potential to go up in value in the coming years.……Well that suggestion resulted in a decade of collecting.
Let me just say that after say the 3rd or 4th new china cabinet I began to get a little worried. Sure, at the beginning it was charming. John decided to start with cocoa sets, so off we'd go looking and found several. All were hand-painted and we found delight in the different patterns- some with birds, with flowers or even portraits. And, these sets were beautifully displayed as we bought those first few china cabinets. We were like a couple of kids inspecting them and I was very pleased that John would be the main “washer” following a purchase, insisting on the use of delicate cloths or even toothbrushes, given his need for perfection in the cleaning of them.
Over the years we moved on beyond cocoa sets to tea sets and plates, and humidors, and nut sets and juice sets and platters and celery sets……need I say more?
And, our collection grew beyond Nippon. Just to give you an example of the kind of guy or collector John was, one day when I mentioned that I wouldn’t mind a couple of “fruit” or “vegetable” salt and pepper shakers (tomatoes, or something along that line) I arrived home to a kitchen counter full of at least 50 pairs of shakers. The counter contained a display of tomatoes, cucumbers, corn sets, broccoli, carrots…you name it he had it. And, he was pretty proud of himself too!
It became a little challenging when we hadn’t yet purchased a home and I was beginning to realize we might never do so because of the size of the home that would be required for our growing pile of artifacts. At one point I had suggested to John that perhaps we’d reached some kind of a quota, and he initially agreed, however, I soon found that whenever I moved a dish in our home (because perhaps it was beginning to look a little cluttered) a new item would appear. Needless to say I learned quickly to stop doing that!
I know some women in marriages find empty bottles behind closets and doors. Not me, I’d find bags of tissue paper. I’d go to John asking if he had purchased anything, while looking around for new pieces in spots where we still had a little space. And, if I did find anything that seemed different or new he would always respond, “Oh that…I’ve had that for a long time.”
Anyhow it is all charming. I never dreamed I would find a man so interested in antiques. (Although I must admit I had moments where I wondered if I should have rather suggested that he collect stamps because at least they can be housed into a binder).
This example is one of the traits we all love about John- his huge enthusiam for anything that interests him. Over the years we have used a lot of our old things and they have provided lots of entertainment. And, John really studied his new interest. I saw first hand how he took on a new subject. For example, in the case of Nippon, he soon became a leading expert and antique dealers started seeking him out to inquire about various porcelain stamps, prices and patterns.
One friend once suggested to me that I could change the appearance of our house according to the seasons and display the antiques that reflected the season of the time. I never found the extra time for that! But we sure had fun. In fact, just recently, John and I dismantled complete china cabinets to display different collections. Each time we unwrapped a piece we had packed away we both got excited all over again!
The reflection on this hobby reminds me of the time when I indicated to my mother that we may marry (I was in my twenties at the time; John was in his fifties). My mother enjoyed John very much, however, her initial reaction was to comment on his age and respond, “I like him but he could die”. I quickly reminded her that I grew up in an antique shop and loved playing the piano and suggested that it shouldn’t be too surprising for her to see me bring home an older (antique?) musician. Anyhow, she surprised me with her comment because my dad was 17 years older than my mother (we won’t go there on the significance of that!) and I had always seen how an interest in older things and heritage pieces could be shared and enjoyed.
Anyhow, she was right “he could die” and now we are closer to that time. However, all that John has given me (and so many others) with his passion for life will never be considered a “short time” in my mind. He has provided me with a lifetime of memories and wonderful times, along with all of that glorious music.
Somehow I find it fitting that he is resting his final days in our “Nippon-inspired” room, surrounded by our china and all those lovely colors and memories. Perhaps he is now dreaming of all those collecting days, while he lies so relaxed bathing in the sound of his own piano renditions playing in the background.
John is resting more and more as he becomes weaker. He still responds to his children and I, but it is more tiring for him to do so now. However, he seems so peaceful and comfortable it makes it easier for us to accept the reality and to help him as he makes this next transition in his life.
Thanks once again- for so much. The scholarships, notes, calls, messages, emails and letters are unbelievable. He is so touched, as am I.
The tributes to him are piling up along side of his collectibles and are a salute to a passionate and generous man. It is no surprise that he has attracted the attention and care of so many endearing folks. I hear your hearts expressing and can see your tears in your reaching out…...as does John.
Thanks to you all for that.