I noticed the For Sale sign in the yard first. A quaint Tudor with cheerful daffodils and peonies lining the grill work in front of the entrance area. The home is on our daily dog-walking route, and often the elderly couple who lived there would wave from their webbed lawn chairs. During football season, OU and OSU flags stood staunchly side by side. We Oklahomans do like our teams, and this couple obviously showed no favoritism. Or perhaps they had a child or grandchild at each of the universities and lent dual support.
Soon after the realtor sign went up, a string of multicolored flags was strung from the metal grilled entrance angling to the street and a glaring Estate Sale sign was planted near the curb. A touch of sadness washed over me, and I mentioned to Max that I hoped the couple had gone to a lovely retirement home to enjoy their latter days. We discussed whether or not to have a peek, but it didn’t seem right to be pawing through the precious belongings of someone we’d seen, but never bothered to stop and visit with.
Three days into the sale, though, the neighbor across the street from the Tudor had taken advantage of the high traffic in the area and put out their own yard sale items, and I as I drove by, I thought I saw a depression glass pitcher worth looking at, so I stopped. Wrong color on the pitcher although it was the real deal and priced well. Nevertheless, I passed up the bargain and ambled across to the estate sale, where I learned the owners had recently passed away--within two months of each other. I hadn’t known.
I browsed, curious as always about what you can discern about people from their belongings, yet respectful, too. A sort of silent mourning for lives well lived.
In the formal living room, a little band of angels posed on a corner shelf. They made me smile. Throughout the home, well-worn furniture and sagging mattresses told of a long life and perhaps a couple who’d been frugal and not gone in for lavishness. Sparkling crystal glasses above the bar told me they’d taken time to celebrate special occasions or had the gift of hospitality.
In the garage, tables groaned under the weight of old books, Bible commentaries, stubs of pastel drawing pencils in their original boxes, and a stack of Hi-Fi records. The one on top had a smiling John Denver. An interest in art and music and a heart for God’s word endeared them to me.
In a cheery apple green bedroom, I knew a happy little girl had once lived. A child who’d loved animals from the books on the closet shelf: Caring for Your Pet Bird, Pudgy the Beaver, Hamilton the Hamster, Horace The Horse. A four-foot carnival panda leaned listlessly in a nearby stuffed chair.
In one of the bedrooms, I found the gilded bird cage that must have one day housed the pet bird. A Titche’s dress bag graced the closet door. A quick check on the Internet tells me the Dallas-based Titche’s ceased under that name in 1979 when Joske’s became the new owner. I didn’t peek to see what garment hung under the bag. It didn’t seem right, but I knew the lady of the house had style.
In the last bedroom, an ivory wedding gown hung elegantly in a visible spot. The delicate lace, high neck, and waist that dipped in told of a lovely petite bride. I envisioned her smile on the long ago day when she’d walked down the aisle. I wondered why no one had claimed the treasure and was sorry I’d never taken the time to stop and even say hello.
Had they been alone during the sunset of their lives? Would a pot of soup or a friendly visit have made their final days easier to bear? I’ll never know. I only regret that we passed by the Tudor house time after time and never really knew the saints who lived there. A pity.
I spent fifty-four cents on two vintage Little Golden Books. Perhaps they will remind me that someday I, too, will be old.
CAFE: A gathering place. A place of refreshment.
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