As I’ve been sharing with you lately, my husband and I have begun a process of simplifying our possessions. We spent the first half of our lives collecting; that’s the fun part. I think I told you that my husband collected many things, from antique vegetable and snuff cans to old cameras and photographs, and much in between. I don’t collect anything per se. I just buy stuff. Over 25 years, there has been a lot of accumulation.
We’ve had a lot of fun recently, passing our collections along to others, though we’re not sure if those who receive our surprise packages find it as fun. But it does feel good to weed out our belongings and work toward having fewer things to dust.
Yesterday, I went to an estate sale for the first time. A neighbor of ours, who died recently at the age of a hundred and something, was a collector. Yesterday morning I received notice that the sale would be happening at his house, two doors up, all day, every day for four days. I viewed the items for sale online. There were thousands.
Cars jammed our tiny street and through traffic came to a standstill. A long line formed in front of the house, while a bouncer representing the estate sale company regulated admittance.
I stood in line nearly 45 minutes to get in. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s human nature to want some of what so many are rushing to acquire. Mostly, I was curious—curious to see what a hundred-year-old man and his late wife might have amassed over eight or nine decades.
Everything that was ever made in silver and brass. Beautiful antique furniture. Crystal and glass in red, blue and green. Hundreds and hundreds of lamps, atop bases of ceramic roosters, cherubs, fruits and vegetables. Hundreds of candlesticks, salt and pepper shakers and bookends, and the usual trays, bowls and vases but enough of them to fill an outlet store many times over. A two-story, three car garage was full of furniture. And right in the middle of everything, amongst the vast collection of artwork, in a three-foot by four-foot frame, a portrait of John Wayne with an American flag, painted on black velvet.
I left the sale on sensory overload and without making a purchase. I began to wonder, though, why the man’s children weren’t taking all these treasures. Then I realized his children are probably in their eighties.
It seemed a little macabre to be perusing and judging my neighbor’s belongings, and I hope I’ll be forgiven for that. I wish him peace in a world without material possessions, and I hope the family benefits nicely from abundant proceeds. I do know the buyers who’ve been storming our neighborhood will go home satisfied that they’ve gotten some goodies at a bargain. So I guess it’s a win all around.
It does make me all the more motivated to straighten up around here and pass on, selectively and methodically, the treasures we’ve been blessed to enjoy for so many years, while we’re still alive.
And, if clearing out around here gives me a little leeway to purchase new treasures occasionally, say from an estate sale, then all the better. Maybe an objet d’art for the new kitchen.