I stepped inside someone’s life today.
It was laid out for all to see. The bigger pieces had all been stripped away by someone closer, or earlier. What remained were bits and pieces of a life well-lived. Everyday items and collected memories.
- sets upon sets of dishes
- cloudy glassware
- newspapers and letters
- books filling shelves
- flowerpots and baskets
- furniture and pillows
- rolled up rugs
- portraits and mirrors
- glass and china figurines
- custom floral drapes
- lamps and light fixtures
- gas cans and yard tools
Mr. Brown’s house had been sold and there was an “Estate and Moving Sale.” The yard was filled with cars. There were people there that I knew, and many I had never seen before. Everything there was for sale. Priced and ready to go
A life in pieces being scattered.
The house is beautiful but old. The items for sale were well organized, but not positioned where they lived “in real life.” Covered in a patina of age and uselessness, now that their owners were gone.
Settled dust that had been disturbed. Scarred hardwood floors. Tiny bathrooms with handmade cabinets and drawers that stuck. A small kitchen (the cabinet doors were for sale). Damask wallpaper and ruffled curtains on small windows. Painted basement steps, scuffed on the edges, with a small rail on one side and open to the concrete floor on the other. Moss spreading on portions of the brick patio. A raised curb of asphalt along the driveway to keep rainwater from draining onto the patio. An outbuilding with the smell of rich dirt that had been kept turned and loose by the animals (foxes?) that had burrowed dens there to live in. A beautiful creek with a raised power or cable line from the street.
We could walk through every part. And so I did. I had never been there before but it was like stepping back into my old childhood home. I tried to take it all in. Sights and sounds, and memories.
I had only met Mr. Brown once, but he made a lasting impression on me. I wrote about his devotion to his beautiful wife, who had gone on before him:
It was a joy to meet Mr. Brown that day. He was quite conversational in his own quiet, mannerly way. We had several common acquaintances and experiences. Visiting with him was a delight. Early on in our conversation he pulled from his shirt pocket a photo of a beautiful, smiling blonde lady. “This is my wife,” he said. “I miss her every day.”
I do not know how long ago Mrs. Brown died, or how long they were married, or how many children they had, or if she was a good cook. I do not know if he carried her picture there before she passed away, or just since she has been gone. What I do know, I saw in Mr. Brown’s face that day – he was still very much in love with her.
Mr. Brown has now gone to the nursing home and someone else will update this old home and make it theirs. I am thankful I was able to see it as Mr. Brown knew it, for in my mind it will always be “Mr. Brown’s house.”
And what did I get at the sale today?
A picture of Mrs. Brown – of course.