Monday, September 23, 2013

Estate Sale

Old Hand Tools
Handwritten neon-green signs led Sarah down streets to the estate sale.  Let’s see—mid-1980s, neatly kept desert lawns…retirees who have moved from the busy life to the business of staying alive.

The sign and number of cars indicated that this house was the estate sale.  Sarah prepared herself for venturing into someone else’s house, someone who either no longer lived, or at least, not here.

Walking through the door told her everything, almost.  Blue and mauve was a sure sign of the late 80s.  Furniture was well worn, especially the big recliner.  The man’s recliner…Sarah thought.  He was the last to leave.

The high ceilings and fans over the dining room and the dining furniture showed the couple had been well off; no Jerome’s or MOR furniture here.  Oak, real oak—and Lenox china ware, a complete set?  Waterford lead crystal? Ireland?

Sarah passed through the kitchen with its separate dining table, a mid-century set.  Now that’s worth some money, she thought as she ran fingers along the maple.  The then much younger couple must have loved this during the 1960s.

The bedroom was a bigger story about the couple’s lives together.  Travel.  Native American artwork.  Framed movie posters lined the walls. MASH.  Hmm, they loved MASH.

Sarah began crying in the bathroom.  Hair rollers in a plastic bag, shower cap, and rows of nail polish lined the counter.  She picked up a purple vinyl purse and promised herself she would use it.

Then the man’s attached office told of his fascination—no, obsession with Star Trek and X-Files.  Rows of video tapes, graphic novels (comic books), and collectibles lay casually on shelves.  How long had he been amassing this stuff?

The other two bedrooms had been her rooms.  Loved dolls, giraffes, Hallmark special Christmas ornaments.  His room was all Sci-Fi and her rooms were filled with a soft love.

The garage was the final stop.  It told the final chapter.  Sarah’s eyes watered as she held rusted hammer and tools, beheld the walker and raised bathroom seat, and saw “50 cents” attached to one golf club.  It was too much to bear.

She paid for the purse, 25% off the $5.00, and hurried away from the house. Inside her car, Sarah opened the purse and appreciated its construction.

In one zipped pouch was a scrap of paper.  It read, “Pick up t-bone steak for dinner.”  It was for him.  Sarah found a tissue and wiped her eyes.


  1. Replies
    1. Yes, they are. Hubby's chess sets to my quilting fabric.

  2. Makes you think as you gaze around your own house...what stories are WE telling with our possessions and how they are presented in the house. But oh Susan..."the business of staying alive" just feels like a tolling of the death bell.

    1. My M-in-law is 87, lives in an active senior community. Looking around at her neighbors and residents, that is what they are all doing.

  3. I wonder why we accumulate so much. Except yarn and knitting needles, of course.

    1. That is a good thing to ask of ourselves. I know I hang onto items that have a connection to my mother, grandmothers, etc. My grown children have no interest in these precious items, so I need to send these items onto someone else.

      Quilting is needs to be kept in my keeping.

  4. This is beautiful. I don't like going to estate sales, walking through someone's home, seeing their lives on sale. If feel like I'm intruding or something. I guess it reminds me of my own life and it's accumulation of stuff. Stuff that I won't care about once I'm gone.

    1. Yes, so true. I don't want someone haggling over $10 for a vase my grandmother had.

  5. Beautifully written by a keen observer. My compliments and appreciation.

  6. Ah the stories within a house and the cherished purse with the poignant note.

    I recall when I went back to Vancouver, I went and stared at the house where I once lived with my wife. So much had changed since then and not only to the house.

    A powerful message in your post, Susan.

  7. I'm looking around at my own stuff now and wondering what it would look like through someone else's eyes.

  8. Oh my gosh, I can relate x10. Very nicely written.


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