Saturday, January 19, 2013

And then it hit me...

Today was the last day of the estate sale where we sold the rest of my mother-in-law's things after all of the siblings took what was meaningful to them.  And let me tell you, there was still a lot of stuff for sale.  I don't think I was emotionally prepared for yesterday.  The sale started at 8.  I was there at 8:05 and the street was packed with parked cars and tons of people in a mad rush to score a treasure.  I couldn't deal with the throngs of people, so I spent most of the day hauling more stuff out of the house and onto the driveway.  About two hours in, I started weeping in her empty living room.  I felt so overwhelmed by it all.  Nobody cared that she was an excellent gardener or photographer or knitter or seamstress or that she could bake a mean cookie or that she loved coffee, Dr. Oz, Martha Stewart or a good biography.  They just wanted to walk away with something for a dollar or fifty cents.  And it made me really freakin' sad. Ironically, she hated having garage sales, but boy did she have a successful one.  I don't think I've ever seen so many people.

Today, I was consolidating things and digging through boxes to tidy up the tables and I came across a white folder at the bottom of a box.  There were several pictures from her life, including what is now my favorite picture of her and my husband.  They are in the hills of Marin County.  Erik looks about thirteen.  The wind is blowing furiously in their hair and they are both looking out through the lenses of their cameras as someone takes a photo of them.  It captures her spirit and the gift that she gave her offspring.  She was a teacher who taught all of her children to appreciate beauty and nature and taking their time to do things right. What a gift!

By the end of the day, we were telling the odd sprinkling of people to take what they wanted for free.  I think she would have liked that.  And it was funny, these people didn't just load up their boxes with whatever they could pick, they took their time and selected items that they liked.  I think she would appreciate that.  She was a generous spirit.  In a way, I hope she was there these past two days watching the goings on of her earthly things and how they were taking up residence in other people's houses and apartments. Her things would live on!  But, mostly, I hope that she will go freak out the person who stole the leaf blower and the lady who kept stuffing items in her ginormous purse.  I was too much of a chicken to call her on it.  Those two should be ashamed of themselves.

I'm pooped, emotionally and physically.  I don't think I want to do another garage sale for at least 50 years.  Hopefully, I won't have to.

14 comments:

  1. I can feel the poignancy in your post, Pamela. There is sadness in selling off your mother-in-law's life.
    I had two garage sales (in cahoots with my sister) long ago and decided that, for me, never again - even then the things weren't treasures, it felt sad and lonely to be selling my life. I hope you never have to do another one either.

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    1. Me too. While I like going to garage sales, I don't really like hosting them. I had a box of my kid's clothes and this guy was rummaging through them and he said, "are these free?" His tone was so judgmental and it really bothered me. I know it's just stuff, but at one time, that stuff clothed my two favorite people in the world and those items are just .50 so...

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  2. Yeah, yard sales are hard on any given day, but selling off your family's things, especially after a death, is…well, kind of like another death. I'm sorry you had to endure it and hope you don't have to do it again, unless you wnat to.

    Wonderful post though, Pam. Like Gracie said, I could feel the sadness throughout. Take care. It takes a goodly tme to get your feet back under you after someone close dies.

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    1. Thank you. Yes, garage sales are difficult. I had a really hard time with people asking me the prices on things because everything has a story and it's so weird to assign it a monetary value.

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  3. Thank you for writing this, Pamela. I feel like I just met a wonderful woman through your words. May she rest in peace. Except when she's freaking out those two moochers, LOL.

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    1. Thanks Amy. She was a pretty cool lady.

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  4. Grief does that Pamela! You carry it around with you day after day and then all of the sudden it crushes you with it's weight; a sadness so heavy that you just weep.... Hugs my friend.

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    1. Thanks Jen. Yep, I've discovered that grief hits when you least expect it. Heck, I'm getting weepy just responding to all these comments. I think our society wants us to just get over it and move on, but I'm getting the feeling that we never get over a loss. There will always be a reminder. I guess in time they just become fewer and farther in between.

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  5. I agree with Gracie's first two statements, Pamela. Also, I wish you'd had my niece there, she would have so called out the purse-stuffer. :)

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    1. My sister-in-law would have called her out on it, but I just didn't want to have to deal with an uncomfortable confrontation. It was too emotionally charged to begin with. I figure that down the line, that lady will have something stolen from her if she hasn't had that happen already.

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  6. With the death of my mother and now my brother-in-law, I am faced with disposing of a lot of stuff myself. It makes me look at my own stuff differently. Do I really need all this stuff?
    It's not the stuff that makes us who we are and we can't expect anyone attending such an event to understand the emptiness that we are feeling. Isn't every antique store just filled with dead-peoples things.
    All those people may have her things, but you have the memories. No one can take that from you.

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    1. Very true. I am always parting with stuff. I've never been much of a hoarder or saver. Anyway, my favorite item that I claimed is a little button that was stuck in one of my mother-in-law's old purses. It says, "We never guess, we look it up." I'm sure it was related to her work at the grocer store, but as a nonfiction writer, I like the sentiment.

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  7. Way to make it, Pam. Way to do it up right. Sometimes you don't even know what feeling you're fixing to have until it hits you like the 2:14 to Phoenix, but it sounds like you made it through like a champ. Here's to stability, serenity, and no more garage sales until 2063!

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    1. Thanks, Tex. And here's to lucrative book deals and new stories in 2013!

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