Garage sale and company is coming....

Here's another story for the collective endeavor of creating the Dummie Book for Adult Children of Senior Parents.

In January of 2010, two of my dear friends volunteered to join me 400 miles from our homes for a very long weekend readying my folks' house for a garage sale.  I had no idea what to expect.  I took this gem of a job on because my step-sister, who lives nearby, had been dealing with so much other stuff. 

I hate garage sales.  They bring out the worst in me.  Well, I guess I hate hosting garage sales.  So I don't.  I'd rather give great stuff away than barter over nickels and dimes.

I have gone to garage/yard sales.  Decades ago, during the stage of early-marriage-poor,  I did score an ancient heavy metal upright Hoover vacuum for five bucks at a garage sale.  After giving good service in our small home, I killed the Hoover when I took it to the glider field where I taught flying.  The pilot "lounge" was such a pit that I decided to suck up the dust and pebbles embedded in the disgusting floor covering.

When the owner of the airfield came in and saw the vacuum he had a very astute observation.  In his understated way, Bud said "Merlyn" (he called me Merlyn), you don't need a vacuum.  If you wait long enough they'll start tracking it all back out."  Besides me breaking my vacuum, my defense mechanism was completely broken by that logic.  

Back to my folks' garage sale.  Debbie and Donny were all over it.  She's an expert and they are among the most intense but fun workers I know.  Debbie gave strict orders about opening every book, and leaving no drawer, cabinet, or container untouched.  Sure enough, the first book Donny opened...there was $800. Then Debbie found two big bags of coins...real silver coins.  That was a small fortune.  And she matched up three sets of silverware (real silver) that had been randomly stashed all over the house.  I was thrilled she had found  some pieces of my mom's silver but we didn't find most of it.  (And that was something I definitely wanted.  I had loved setting out that silver as a kid, for special occasions.  Later I found out our step mom gave it to my brother in Florida.)  

While all that was going on,  my wonderful step-sister and also great friend Debbie (not to be confused with my other friend Debbie), and I sat with my folks at their yet unpriced dining room table, while they interviewed two real estate brokers for the job of representing them in the sale of their house.  They made the right choice.  But all the activity tired and overwhelmed them.  Leaving Donny and Debbie in charge, I was able to tend to errands and some needs of my folks.

My dad and step-mom were in awe that complete strangers were doing all this work for them.  In fact, it was literally incomprehensible to my dad who could not conceive that such giving existed.   He was not one who gave of himself to anybody, and certainly not to those unknown to him.  That job had fallen to my mom who had died several years earlier, and had been filled by his second wife. 

Debbie proceeded to attack the kitchen.  It was gross.  Nothing gets by her.  She paused for a moment to look at what was posted on the refrigerator.  She read the note I had left there about two months before, just prior to when the folks were unexpectedly and unceremoniously moved from their home into assisted living.

I had been trying to arrange for occasional in-home help for them in order to alleviate the burdens my dad was imposing on his wife.  The intent was to use a service for driving them around (yep, my dad was not pleased about me taking the keys away - another story), and to help them with house cleaning and some meal prep.  I had left a note to remind them of who was coming.

Here's what I wrote: 
Peter is coming this afternoon.  
Jesus is coming tomorrow. 

She just cracked up!  And when she showed me so did I!  I had not even considered the fact that I had left a deeper message than I certainly intended!  Peter was a nice guy from the home-care service.  And his replacement was going to be Jesus...pronounced 'Hay-soos'.  

I can only surmise that because my step-mom is legally blind that she didn't see it and that my dad had no interest in any information that I left for him.  

The garage sale was an amazing event.  A simple ad placed on Craig's List the night before the sale, coupled with the great location of the property, resulted in some serious cash for the owners, an empty house for the real estate broker to get into shape, and an amazing four days of good food, brief tours of Newport Beach, and nice hotel rooms for three friends.

If  Peter and Jesus showed up for the sale, we didn't know it and they didn't stay long.  They must not have found what they were looking for.  Maybe they'll have better luck at the next sale they come across.

Live richly,


ps  If you'd like to receive an anonymous auto-update when a new post is made, go to the upper left of the blog and sign up.  OR you can email me and I can add you to an email blast list that is BCC'd so nobody gets your address. If you know someone who can relate to this boomer-chick stuff, feel free to share it via the icons below that will post the link to a site you may use.  Thanks for the kind words of support about the writing and the endeavor!  m


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