The next snapshot comes almost a full week into our holidays.
We had been working for a couple days at the elusive Donna’s parent’s place. With her Mom passing away and her Dad living full-time in a nursing home, we had to sort out all the things inside the house and clean and organize so it can go on the market. This led to a Garage Sale on Saturday where things were priced to move.
Sorting through things is really not a job for the family. As the sisters and brother looked through things to put in either the “trash” or “treasure” pile there were frequent, audible gasps that would inevitably lead to a pause in the work as they shared stories associated from the little bits and pieces of their shared past that had been uncovered. These were wonderful moments but it meant it would be impossible to get through everything in the time we had.
Her family had moved into the house in the early 60’s and the 3 bedroom rancher became the home of Mom, Dad, son, daughter, daughter, daughter and Grandma and Grandpa. We went through drawers and closets, explored attic and basement. I became convinced that it was possible that nothing had been thrown away that could maybe perhaps someday be used for anything. We found 20 tobacco pipes in various states of brokenness and 4 or 5 coffee maker carafes that couldn’t fit the current maker but had been kept on hand ‘just in case’. “Waste not, want not” had been a proverb the family had learned how to squeeze the last drop from.
On the day of the sale, the driveway at one of the sister’s was lined with tables and things big and small, old and new, cheap and priceless, gathered from the house: a portable dishwasher, an ironing board, a food processor, dishes, a cordless drill, a meat slicer, mason jars and industrial mop buckets. There was also a dresser, a coffee table and end tables, a TV and hand tools and much, much more. There wasn’t anything there of great monetary value and everything that didn’t sell was headed to Goodwill. It was mostly the dishes that held the most memories of time shared and treats made. It was painful to put .25 cents on a plate that had been held in their Mom’s hand and been covered in homemade biscuits for countless breakfasts made and shared together. These weren’t just dishes and coffee cups, they were souvenirs of a life well lived but far too brief.
At the end of the day we loaded a truck and a mini-van with the remnants and we took them to the local Goodwill centre where they would be sorted again and priced and then be recycled into the mementos of someone else’s life. We arrived at Goodwill and unloaded and headed back to finish the clean up. Later that night we would realize that the good china that had been set aside for safe keeping had been in the back of the mini-van and it had unknowingly been unloaded with the rest of the donations for the Goodwill thrift shop.