Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Estate Sale Poem

We had to uninstall the new version of Internet Explorer in order to get back on my blog. It's now working!

I enjoy yard sales, but estate sales make me feel sad. They remind me of my own mortality. Rummaging in someone’s home through their closets or cabinets feels like pilfering, even though I pay for the items I purchase.

I was at an estate sale where adult grandchildren were selling off the contents of their grandma’s home. I didn’t ask if she had died or was in a nursing home. I listened to their chatter. Every item they sold had a price tag and a memory attached. A woman bought a set of Melamec plates, those old plastic dishes. The grandson and granddaughter said, “Aw, remember when we used to come over and Gram would serve us chili-mac on those dishes?” This poem evolved from that estate sale.

The Estate Sale

Buyer’s delight piled high on tables and counters,
crammed into kitchen cabinets,
sprawled across floors,
spread in every closet, nook and cranny.
Price tags stuck on priceless memories.

Stained chili-mac plates,
crystal vases that once held daisies and droopy dandelions,
mismatched jelly glasses with Nestle Quick stirrings,
silver spoons that soared applesauce airplane-fast into baby mouths,
cast iron skillets seasoned with a whiff of Sunday bacon.

Lavender-scented towels folded with tenderness,
aprons knotted with love, doilies crocheted by hand,
cross stitched hankies, patchwork quilts,
pillows stuffed with dreams.
For Sale: Grandma’s treasured things.

For Sale: grandkids’ memories
stored, floored, shelved, hung,
disposed of one at a time for a nickel or dime,
sold for a song, everything’s gone,
no more, close the door.


Chatty Crone said...

Growing old is not for sisses is it. You are so sweet and sensitive. Love your poem. sandie

Bookie said...

You caught the angst of the experience well. I suffer at estate sales too...and auctions are even worse. People pawing over things and then shaking their heads at the auctioneer like it was worthless stuff.

Glad you found problem on posting!

Thisisme. said...

Lovely poem, which said it all! It must have been so sad for those grandchildren having to sell all their grandma's possesions. As Chatty said, growing old is not for cissies is it?!

Barb Hodges said...

Linda, I could also feel the emotion of seeing someone else with grandma's things. I love the way the grandchildren reflected on the joyful memories they will always have about their grandmother. What's not to like about a poem? Thanks for sharing.

Odie Langley said...

A great poem that says a lot.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Nice poem. I've never been to an estate sale, but I have had to sort through memories with my siblings after the death of my parents. Not sure if I could have put a price tag on anything.

Lynn said...

Really love that poem!

Val Thevictorian said...

Thank you. I am an adult grandchild. I had to buy back my memories at the auctions held for the estates of both of my grandmas. That's not right.

Each side of the family had an uncle in charge who decided that the only fair way was to make us grandkids bid on our memories with the general public.

It's not like we all wanted the silver, or an art collection, or furs. We wanted things like a wooden plate that hung on the kitchen wall: "Give us this day our daily bread." A wire egg basket. A painting on a sawblade of the house where my dad was born. A black-and-gray striped ceramic cat, whose long neck bore the glue from each repair job after we knocked it off the coffee table while chasing each other through the house.

It's hard to put a price on a memory. You captured my feelings well.

Susan said...

That was a very poignant poem, Linda. You definitely captured the feel of the estate sale and all the memories it contained.

Sometimes such sales make me sad but then, I figure, the family has already taken what they want. The person who owns the things is usually gone, so why not let others put the things left to good use? It's better than letting them sit in an empty house. Susan

Debora said...

Wonderful poem. The last estate sale I went to was conducted by some old friends of a lady who was dying of cancer. She was there; and was tearing up with every purchase. It was excruciating to watch this emaciated little lady sit there as her friends sold her life's belonging for a song.

Sioux said...

I loved your poem. The paired phrases were wonderful---"price tags and priceless..." "daisies and droopy dandelions...""stored, floored..." and my favorite: "sold for a song, everything's gone."

I agree. Garage sales are a blast, but there's something about estate sales and auctions. Someone's died...

Jennifer Brown Banks said...


Excellent piece. And I love anything, of course, that has do do with a sale! :-)

Janet, said...

I love the poem. Your story was sweet and sad. It makes us all ponder about what is going to happen to our 'stuff' when we are gone.

Linda O'Connell said...

Thank you all so much for your comments. Debora, your post brought me to tears.

Vicki Rocho said...

I don't go to many estate sales, but I did get a pair of aluminum baking pans a few years ago. I just loved how dented and scratched they were. I pictured all the wonderful desserts and meals that had been prepared in them and felt like they needed a new home. I think about the mystery woman every time I use them!

Tammy said...

Aww...you really captured all of those things--and the memories attached to them. Interesting that you mentioned this, because I recently bought two place settings of my grandmother's everyday china ("Desert Rose" by Franciscan). It was money well spent. I'm amazed at how I giggle just like a little kid whenever I see them!