By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS)– When you lose a loved one, it can take years to shore up the courage to part with the things they’ve left behind.

Many you keep, some you pass on to relatives. Others you may donate to charity. But what happens when what you want to keep gets given away by mistake?

That’s what happened to a Chicago woman who is in search of a very special sewing machine.

“As anybody whose grieving knows, you start to say goodbye to objects, not the person or the memory,”  Michelle Frack said.  “But you say goodbye to their things.”

Michelle has thought about her mom Marcia every day, since she died three years ago.

While Michelle has a lifetime of memories, there’s still something missing. Marcia’s vintage 1938 kenmore model 83 sewing machine.

It stitched together much more than clothing, it was part of the fabric of Michelle’s family, for generations and passed down from her grandmother.

“I love this piece of furniture,” Michelle said. “I was never really allowed to touch this piece of furniture because I’m very clumsy and I probably have spilled diet coke on it.”

In the slow sorting out process, about a month ago,  week after the third anniversary of her mother’s death, a relative mistakenly put the sewing machine and its cabinet in a donation pile.

Off they went to Good Will in Westchester, where they were bought up almost immediately. Michelle was devastated, she wanted to buy back the machine with a reward.

Good Will said employees just couldn’t help.

“A few days later, on a whim I though I would make Facebook posts an hang up posters,” Michelle said.

The online response was overwhelming.

“Facebook has a group for everybody,” She said. “There is a small army of sewers and they have been asking friends. They have no idea who i am. I’m getting messages that were posted ‘this is for you’ they’re searching.”

For a moment there was a ray of hope. A Michigan woman posted about a machine she’d just bought, it was a 1938 model, but not Marcia’s machine.

“A number of people on Facebook have offered to donate their machines to the person who has ours if we find it, which is so kind,” Michelle said. 

She she hopes whoever has the machine loves it.

“In a very bittersweet way, just watching people try to help is lovely and it just adds a different dimension to processing grief,” she said. “So, even if we don’t get reunited, it’s been an oddly lovely journey.”

 The 1938 sewing machine was manufactured the year Michelle’s mom was born. Michelle says her mom would say all the fuss a little silly, that she didn’t teach her daughter to chase after memories.

But still, Michelle knows some memories just need to be kept close.

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