Over many weekends we’ve seen signs posted for estate sales and garage sales. We’ve caught a few garage sales toward latter part of their day, only to find that there wasn’t anything left that we wanted. This past weekend while we were running errands, I saw a sign that read “estate sale.” I expressed my interest in stopping, especially since I’d never been to one before. To be quite honest, it really hadn’t sunk into my head what an estate sale really was. Even though the words couldn’t be any plainer, it didn’t register and my mind had imagined a whole block of homes that were participating in selling their goods.
I saw the sign with the address followed by #227. My significant other said that we would take care of our errands first and then we would catch the sale on the way back. It was still early.
Done with what we set out to do, we slowed as we approached the street and when we saw the large neon sign, we pulled over and found a place to park. It was a hot day, my mouth felt dry, and the air was thick. We walked toward the sign and followed the arrows through the gate. This seemed to be an apartment complex for seniors and it was the most peaceful location. The grass was well kept and there were benches for sitting and enjoying the trees, fresh air, and flowers. There was a hush that silenced the outside commotion of cars and machinery. I could see myself living in a place like this. Peaceful, serene, a sense of community.
As we came around the corner to #227, my significant other said, “there will probably be a lot of knick-knacks.” And just as he said this, I saw in through the window to a windowsill filled with figurines. We entered the home through its open door to be greeted by others looking through the various items that were displayed on tables. We made eye contact with the woman who was holding the sale and said hello. She seemed in her late 40s and was not overly friendly. I went first to two small bookshelves of books. It was like any other home with the types of things that one has surrounded themselves with to make a home feel like a home.
It didn’t start settling in until I saw photos that were also part of the sale, possibly photos of the woman who owned all the items in this home before she passed on. To see her photo and the many other small black and white photos in a box waiting for someone to buy left an unidentifiable feeling inside of me. How did I feel rummaging through this woman’s things. I assumed it was a single woman because there wasn’t any men’s clothing. She could have been a widow.
On one of the tables I saw a small flat metal heart that couldn’t be used for much, except maybe to place a dried flower or a pair of earrings or a few pieces of candy. There was something about it that I liked, though. I left it there and would point it out to my significant other when I found him in another room of the house.
The home had a scent of many old memories planted all around, soon to be dispersed and forgotten.
Every item was well marked with price tags. In the kitchen, I saw a set of four ramekins for making custard. I had wanted to add a set to my collection of kitchen supplies after seeing a recipe for flan.
It was a tight squeeze in the home navigating the other people and the long tables set up in the middle of the small living room displaying a variety of trinkets and knick-knacks for sale. We took our things up to the lady and she wrote down what she sold us and the cost on a sheet of paper, adding to a short list she had already started. We gave her the money, thanked her, and we were on our way.
As we walked away past the green grass and back onto the noisy sidewalk, my significant other said, “how sad.”
“I’m not sure how I feel. I didn’t feel like it was wrong. I know what you mean though. I wonder who the woman was,” I said. “Maybe her daughter?”
“It could have been her caretaker.”
“She didn’t seem sad. It must be sort of odd having someone go through your home while you’re right there.”
“It doesn’t seem like she’s going to get rid of much. It’s mostly little things that no one’s going to want.”
“I wonder how she’ll get rid of the rest.”
I carefully placed the ramekins in the car, so that they wouldn’t bump into each other.
On the car ride home, I wasn’t sure what to feel or how I felt rummaging through a deceased person’s things, seeing her picture smiling up at me from its small frame. I do know that I will put these ramekins to good use one of these days when I set out to make some custard or flan. I’ll think of the woman and hope that she’ll know that her ramekins are in good hands—and that her heart found mine—hearts all around.