Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I see dead people (or at least ther stuff)

I'm sure most of you are aware that, if you buy secondhand long enough, eventually you are going to handle, peruse, browse through, or actually purchase items that belonged to someone who is now deceased.  Often, you're completely unaware of it.  Sometimes, you're acutely aware of it.

Nothing can prepare you, however, for finding stuff from a deceased person that you knew, especially in an unlikely place.

Last week, I was goofing off browsing around the Peddlers Mall when I started going through a stack of books.  We have a dealer there who is fairly big time.  He has close to a hundred booths and thousands of items in the mall.  Frequently, he buys out whole estate when the family is looking to liquidate in one fell swoop.

I found a missal in the stack and started to thumb through it.  I always buy vintage missals when I find them priced well.  I have learned over the years to give them a quick skim to see if there are any holy cards tucked between the pages.  I didn't find anything, until I got to the front of the book.  There was an inscription indicating that this missal had been given as a gift from some grandparents to other family members. 

The names were familiar to me.  The last name of the family was the same name as a former co-worker and friend who passed away suddenly in April.  She had been a supervisor of Keith's for several years, and they had remained close afterwards.  It seems like no one outside the family knew that she had even been sick, until the obituary appeared in the paper, and it was pretty bare bones.  There wasn't a service or a visitation, just a private family gathering.  When I realized that the last name of the grandparents was her maiden name, I started to get a little freaked out.

Then I found a framed certificate given to our friend in appreciation for her work and got goosebumps.  I immediately took a picture and texted it to Keith, who was as shocked as I was by the discovery.  After that, I walked around all day shaking my head.  You just never know what (or who) you're going to find.

Fast forward to last Friday night, when I am looking through the sale listings for the next day.  Lo and behold, there's a sale happening on our own street, right down the block from us.  I don't recognize the house number, so I decide to check it out in the morning, while I'm hitting up a new trash pile I saw the night before.

It seems to me that the house is awfully familiar.  Suddenly, it dawns on me that this is the house of an elderly gentleman who is known and loved by just about everybody around.  He's had several strokes over the years, but has taken daily walks around our block as long as we have known him.

We befriended him right after we moved into the house, when he realized that we both worked for local government.  He was having some trouble getting his disabled bus pass renewed, so Keith helped him and then got him connected with the local office for elderly/disabled services.  We had been wondering about him this year, as we had not seen him out and about in a while, not even after the weather got nice.

I get it in my head at that point that this must be his estate sale, which bums me (and Keith) out considerably.

Thankfully, I turned out to be completely wrong.  Keith says I have the wrong house, and he would know better than me, since he's been there more times than I have.  I also rechecked the listing and it was advertised as a moving (not estate) sale.  None of the items pictured for sale were the kind of things that someone this gentleman's age would have. 

We ended up missing the sale.  They closed early due to low turn out well before we got there.  I'm really glad that we didn't end up going through another friend's things.  I'm still bothered by the fact that we haven't seen him lately.

Up until this last week, the closest I had come to encountering a deceased friend's stuff was the time we went to a yard sale in front of a house that a friend had rented for years before she died.  We ended up telling the people having the sale all about her.   Now I've had a close call and a close encounter, right in the middle of the Peddlers Mall.

I really hope it doesn't happen again for a long while.


Diana said...

That's never happened to me before Eddie--I can see how it would be unnerving. I once cleaned out an estate where the deceased had written notes on many items about where they came from and what was important to her. I found a newspaper clipping about her with her picture among her things and had it on my bulletin board for a long time. I wanted to respect her things (and her privacy), and every now and again, I'd smile at her and thank her for taking such good care of her family heirlooms. I'd want her to know what pleasure they brought me and many other people.

Shara said...

I have had something strange happen to me in the last week. Last Fall a very dear friend of my family died unexpectedly - he was in a wheelchair - only 53 years old - his heart just stopped one night. This was my Dad's very best friend. He was at his house every single day running errands with him or for him, hanging out or playing poker. It was a shock for him to just be gone. The house got cleaned up and put up on the market. He heard it sold and mentioned the job that the new owner held in town. Wait, what did you say? He repeated it and I realized that another dear friend of mine had just bought a new house and was very excited and loved it very much. 2+2 and you have it figured out. She had bought his house! So, now it's like the house is still in the family and I know his spirit is being taken care of by someone special to me.

I hope you find your neighbor friend.

Linda @ A La Carte said...

It is kinda creepy but then we as family members go through our loved one's things when they pass on. I don't know it's weird on so many levels.

Donna Wilkes said...

We had estate sales at both my grandparent's homes. It was not creepy at all because we had taken away everything we wanted. My granny had put names on certain items so we would not fight over them :>)))

The creepiest thing is when someone close to you asks if you would come and make an offer on an estate. I always refuse in fear of hurt feelings and suggest estate agents I know are dependable. I do get books from time to time of friends who have died. I offer them back to the family but usually they no longer want them. I once bought a little red pogo stick that had the name of a childhood friend. I remember her getting it for Christmas when we were in the third grade. I tracked her down and she was not happy at seeing the pogo stick. It turned out everyone who had bought this pogo stick had called to see if she wanted it back.

Melissa said...

After my great aunt died a couple of years ago, we (several family members and myself) spent nearly a year cleaning up her estate (she was a hoarder). She had a farm house, and many MANY barns full the the rafters. It was quite the undertaking. We then held an auction for her stuff. So many family members came to buy stuff (that didn't help clean up). I ended up with quite a few of her things. We saved back all her diaries, cards, scrapbooks, etc. It's really neat to read through them.

We are: Clamco said...

The very first estate sale I went to (when I started reselling) was very emotional for me. I didn't know the person at all but I was just so upset seeing people literally tossing stuff out of drawers and just having no respect for the items or the other people at the sale. I drove home in hysterics. It took me a few more sales before I got over that feeling, but it was a day that launched me head on into the minimalism thing. I don't want strangers going through my stuff when I'm gone, so the less I leave behind, the better.