Sunday, January 24, 2010
The quick and the dead
Yesterday's post about the purchase of my used pajamas produced a host of opinions about estate sales! Who knew people were so conflicted? It seems that a lot of people out there agree with Howard that estate sales are depressing because you are buying the things that belonged to someone who had passed away.
Well, Howard has been trying to explain that it is not that, strictly speaking. It is that the people who go through the estate sales treat the items with disrespect. At least, they ignore that a life was lived there, a life that odds are has ended.
Here is what is strange. I go to these estate sales, I have to say, because of my mother. If my mother did not want to go, I probably would not go! Which I have laughed about with my mom, because the truth is, my life has improved because of these sales. I have a grand kitchen timer, a kitchen scale, new pajamas, all kinds of things I did not know that I needed but now have, because of going to estate sales with my mother.
Now, my mother is older than I am and yet she is not disturbed in the least by macabre thoughts while we are at the sales, I will tell you that right now.
I am the one curious about the people whose sale it is. She is not!
I am the one whispering about what the names of the people are, figuring out what religion they were and whether or not they were music fans. Although truth to tell, their musical tastes have less to do with sentiment as with the odds of finding Leonard Pennario records in the basement.
I like to figure out things about these people because I respect them. Sometimes over the years I have bought unclaimed family photographs and have displayed them here and there. I have actually done that. If the people were Catholic, I go in and take the Catholic items: missals, rosaries, scapulars, statues. I do not want harm to come to them and I do not want the sacred items desecrated. And sometimes I run into someone who wants a missal or a rosary and then I have one.
All I can think is that the, ahem, deceased would appreciate this. You want your treasures to go into good hands. If they have bum families, oh well. Where these people are now, they are beyond all that.
Still you cannot take everything. One memory tugs at my heart. That was years ago when I was at an estate sale in the home of a woman I figured out had been a reporter for the Courier-Express. There were extensive scrapbooks of her work, and it distressed me that no one in the family had claimed them. Great family, you know. You would have thought she would have had a niece, a grandchild, someone.
So sometimes I wish I had taken those scrapbooks. Journalists' honor!
Except where would I have put them? I do not have room for my own clips!
These are the matters with which I wrestle.
On the other hand one thing to keep in mind is that we really can tell only so much about a person's life from going through an estate sale. We tend to feel sorry for people because they are dead. Just because a person might not have a family to claim his or her stuff does not mean that the person led a sad life. Besides which this person, wherever he or she is now, has more pressing concerns than who is going to buy that one dresser. That is what my faith teaches me and I believe it.
Philosophizing! Deep thinking, as I sit here in my used pajamas.
A penny for your thoughts!
Better still, how about half a penny?