Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ode To A Small Town And The Estate Sale At Grandmas.

The estate sale at Grandmas

 This post was from an original post done for the Vintage Etsy Society blog.

Almost two weeks ago we were on the tail end of our vacation when I got an email from my cousin. She told me that my Aunt and her were going down to Southern Illinois on the following Tuesday to clean out my Grandmothers house. My Grandmothers house had sold to a neighbor and they had to have everything cleaned out by the following weekend. I was quite surprised but glad it had sold it would be one less worry for the family.
My Grandmother had moved down to live with my Aunt last October but had recently had a fall and had a hairline fracture on her hip. This required her to remain in a nursing home until it healed. Grandma will be 94 in August and has Alzheimer's disease and does not know where she is or who people are any longer. More than likely she will remain in the nursing home even after her hip heals.
I decided to head down on a Tuesday taking the train to the town I grew up in to do this sad and daunting task. Since the age of thirteen all I ever dreamed of doing was getting away from that small town. I disliked that there wasn't much to do, that people were nosey, judgemental, and that I couldn't go "places" if I stayed there. At the age of seventeen I left to go to college and I never returned.
We spent hours for three days from early morning to late night pulling things out of closets, drawers, cabinets and the pantry. Each one of us would ask the other, "Do you want to take this home?" If not it was cleaned up a bit and tagged with a pink circle price tag and put out on the counter, table, floor, bed or dresser to be sold. We were up on step stools pulling stuff out of high closets and down low pulling stuff out of dresser drawers.  It was bittersweet to hold those things Grandmother once loved, that she touched, that she baked with and that surrounded her life. There was a bit of guilt in throwing some worn and unusable items out and in selling ones too.
The sale was held on a Friday and the house was opened up to strangers, neighbors, family and friends. I sat at the kitchen table taking the money and bagging the things people were buying. Mostly I noticed how nice and friendly people were. How they ask questions about who lived here and what happened? People would sit at the kitchen table while I was tallying up and talk to me, my cousin and Aunt like they were our best friends. A rude or unkind word was never uttered. A neighbor lady who I have known all of my life came over to see us. I had not seen her in probably thirty five years and she didn't recognize me. I recognized her though as someone from my past who was kind and loving. After she figured out who I was we talked awhile and she stayed to help bag items and add some friendly conversation. We talked about me as a young girl and about our families. She ask if we were hungry and volunteered to fix us lunch. She had brought over a cake the day before and that morning had baked cookies for us too. She returned a little later with meatballs, baked potatoes from her garden, sliced tomatoes from her garden, dressing and bread and butter. It was like a feast for a King for three weary souls who had the daunting task of selling precious items that belonged to someone they so loved. That same neighbor came to see about us the next day while we were hauling the leftover stuff to the Salvation Army. There were hugs all around and such a fellowship of love.
It made me think that maybe in my small scope of thinking as a teenager that I missed the most important things that seem somehow lost today. Neighbors helping neighbors, strangers being kind and people reaching out to you in a rough time of your life. It made me re-think about someday returning to the area to live in my older age to reconnect with those who had familiar faces and ways.
I was reminded while setting up for the sale that at the sales I go to myself  I need to be more aware that these things meant much to someone. That these everyday  things were once held by someone and a real live person cherished them and used them daily. It also made me realize that someday, someone would be going through my things and making decisions on what to keep and what to sell or give away.
I moved from a house to a condo last year and paired down quite a bit. My goal over the next few years is to live frugally, let go of the excess baggage of things and leave a legacy of love behind and not too much stuff.
This is a ode to a small town in Southern Illinois that stands still in time in many ways. The recent days spent there changed my mind about where I grew up and the people who live there. I'm proud to say that I'm a small town girl and I have never forgotten that

The garden gate at Grandmas.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful. I love you Aunt K. -Julie