The Estate Sale

My first estate sale!  I am a new senior citizen so I am supposed to accompany my wife on these sojourns occasionally.  This is my first one and I am neither reluctant nor excited.  I am only present and accounted for.

The U-shaped drive way is a good fifty yards up an incline.  The drive was originally a single drive.  The U, added recently, probably will help sell the house.  The combination of old and new concrete is not especially pleasing to my eye though.

The house itself, a long and rambling single story’ has a red tile roof.  The front step landing, large and somewhat imposing, greets us as we walk up.  As I stand on the landing, I look out at the front yard.  The grass is brown and almost gray.  Neighboring houses still have some green in their grass.  I am sure the lawn hasn’t been watered in some time.  The landscaping, what there is of it, is in need of some loving care.  I am struck by the lack of color.  Perhaps the house, or estate if you will, hasn’t been lived in for some time.

We walk in the open door to find a number of people milling around examining the objects for sale.  This is the most action seen around here in some time I am sure.  My wife goes off to look for treasures and I begin to look around and get my bearings.  You can tell a lot about someone by his or her possessions.  I am quickly impressed by the gun collection.  I count sixteen pistols in a case.  They all look like collectors items and are priced from $1000 to $5000; no Saturday night specials or target pistols in this group.  The rifles are equally imposing and number fourteen with prices up to $9000.  The owner was apparently a hunter and a collector.

A number of paintings and unusual artifacts drape the walls with an equal number sitting on the floor leaning against the walls.  Almost every piece has an ornate frame.  The striking fact about the artwork is that it almost all in black, white and gray– no color, no life.  The artwork also depicts still life with very little action in any of the paintings.

The furniture that is displayed is an eclectic collection of various elements.  Some antiques, some primitive and even modern are in the assortment.  There is a surprising lack of formal or traditional furnishings that one would expect to find in such a house as this one.  A number of bookcases in various locations are filled with a substantial number of books, both hardback and paperback.  While some are history and travel books, the largest part of the collection is composed of popular novels of the last twenty years.  John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum and James Patterson dominate the collection.

Having spent some time as a building contractor and home remodeler, I was interested in the construction elements and layout of the house.  I was particularly struck by how each room had a different type of flooring.  Most of the floors were brick or stone but of a different design in each room.  Newer or remodeled homes tend to have the same or similar flooring to allow for a better flow throughout the house.  These floors almost gave the feeling that you needed to knock before entering each room.

I made my way to the living quarters, but was stopped by yellow caution tape stretched across the doorway leading to the bedrooms—no admittance.  I almost expected the homeowner to come walking down the hall.  I certainly felt his presence all about me.  I felt like calling out to him but I think the visitors in the house would consider me quite odd, which, I guess I am.  I have not mentioned a female presence or female feeling about the house because there isn’t any.  If there was a wife, which there probably was, she must have passed some time ago.  The aura of the house is very male and old.

Finally, I walk out on the back patio.  Actually, two distinct patios plus a swimming pool off to the right grace the back yard.  Some large oak trees dot the landscape.  They seemed very stressed and almost dead due to an over abundance of that dark moss that came over from Germany many years ago.  The moss is literally strangling the trees much as a sense of death seems to be strangling this house.  Once again, there are no shrubs and no color surrounding the patios.  A sense of bleak and cold permeated me, even though the temperature is in the low eighties.  The swimming pool was recently filled with clean fresh water.  I think the pool has a crack somewhere and this fresh water will leak, evaporate and leave just as the many estate sale visitors will evaporate and leave.

Turning and re-entering the house, I find my wife and we walk down the hill towards our car.  We stopped, turned around and looked back at the house up the hill. I think what an impression our material possessions make after we are gone.  I have a vivid impression of the owner in my mind, but his face is somewhat obscured by a gray mist.  I know him well, but I would not recognize him on the street.

I think perhaps I should get rid of a thing or two of my own, things I do not care to share with the population at large after I bid adieu to this earthly plane.  But really, do I care so much what impression my things will give after I am gone?  I think I won’t get rid of anything.  The number of people I have loved and who have loved me, the people I was able to assist in some small way, and the people who benefited because I crossed their paths will determine the value of my life.  Yes, it is what we do and not what we have that enables us to leave a rich legacy.

Today has given me an opportunity to pause, reflect, and make decisions about my own life and how I want to be remembered.  This won’t be my last estate sale—there’s more to figure out.

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