*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
Thirty years ago, there was a man who sold chickens and eggs door to door in our neighborhood. My father befriended this man, and the two of them would often sit at the local coffee shop enjoying a hot beverage and a sugary treat.
The chicken-and-egg salesman visited my parents at our home occasionally. These visits were social visits, not business calls. In other words, he left his van of chickens and eggs at home.
My mother would brew a pot of coffee and put out a platter of whatever cookies or treats we had in the house when he came to visit.
He was a very nice man, and he appreciated my parents' friendship and hospitality. The man explained to them that many people refused to try to communicate with him because he was deaf. Despite his complete hearing loss, he could speak and read lips. However, he said most people wouldn't take the extra time to understand what he said.
Fortunately, my parents understood him perfectly, and they all enjoyed each other's company. The man told my parents about his childhood and his life. He told them how much he loved his mother, a woman who always cared for him and protected him.
His mother had recently passed away, and that understandably made him sad, but he said my parents and their friendship helped him with the loss. My parents were happy to help.
One day, the man came to visit with a package tucked under one arm.
My mother had a feeling the package contained a present for her. "He didn't have to give me anything," she said. "We enjoyed his company, and that was enough. Still, I couldn't help but wonder whether I was about to receive free eggs."
The man sat at my parents' kitchen table, drank coffee, and ate cookies without mentioning the package he had placed at his feet. When he finished eating and drinking, he picked up the package and gave it to my mother. "Open it," he said.
My mother complied. She opened the package and revealed the most beautiful teapot, coffee creamer, sugar bowl, and soup tureen she had ever seen. The set was hand-painted with colorful pictures of fruit and gold accents.
It was the vintage Lefton Heritage Fruit Pattern that was produced between 1949 and 1964, and it was in brand new unused condition despite already being several decades old. My mother said it was lovely, and I'm sure it was. It sits on the top shelf of my mother's kitchen cupboard to this day, thirty years later.
The man told my mother that the beautiful china had belonged to his own beloved mother and he wanted her to have it. He explained he couldn't think of another woman more deserving to treasure his mother's lovely Lefton china; he knew it would be in good hands, and he was right.
For comparison's sake, there's a single vintage Lefton Heritage Fruit Pattern teapot selling for $99.99 online, and it has signs of wear and tear, such as gold paint loss on its handle and spout. My mother's teapot and other pieces, on the other hand, are unused and still have their original red Lefton stickers on the bottoms.
My mother gently removed the teapot, soup tureen, sugar bowl, and creamer from the top shelf of her cupboard so I could take a photo, as seen below. The set is unused and as fresh as the day it was hand-painted over half a century ago, and it's not for sale at any price.