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Some possessions just cannot be sold

Some estate sales are worth patronizing

It seems more and more ESTATE SALE signs are popping up on lawns lately. I'd slowed for milling buyers carrying their purchases to varied vehicles when I thought: Apparently "Estate Sale" is now the "in" term for what we used to call "Household Goods Sale."

What's being sold in both cases, however, is essentially the same: items owned by the elderly ("Senior citizens," we call them now - there are no "old people" anymore).

It was tempting to stop and join the milling buyers carrying their Estate Sale purchases to varied vehicles parked on all sides. That is, it was - until for some reason, a 30-year-old vignette suddenly surfaced on my mental screen: It contained "Ella," a rural neighbor - who seemed old even when I was a child - and a crisp June day where a crowd gawked and poked over advertised "Farm Sale bargains."

A carnival-like scene: children running, yelling, balloon-trimmed tables topped with "Sandwiches for Sale" signs, coffee odors mingling with cigarette smoke….

A portly, cowboy-hatted auctioneer mounted a make-shift podium and began his spiel: "What am I offered for this hand-knitted, wool afghan? Thirty, thirt, thirt… Do I hear thirty-five? Five, five… going, going…."

Then, warming up and quickening his pace: "Now here's a jen-you-wine, anteek warshboard - gairin-teed to clean your clothes. Forty, fort, fort… do I hear fifty?"

Interest heightened with: "Next, this antique, brass-bound trunk…" The trunk had held Ella's wedding gown, button-topped shoes, cherished lusterware pitcher…

Ella's husband, Jeb - born in the adjoining house 83 years before - had brought his bride there, fathered nine children, tilled the land. Half a century they'd paid their bills, gone to church, read their Bibles, prayed, never doubted God's care.

"Good folk," neighbors said. "Honest. Kept their word. Had a 'handshake as good as a bond.'"

Now their earthly treasures were being auctioned off to bargain hunters who'd clustered - like crows on road-kill - picking at the couple's lifetime belongings… a scene so sad I had to turn away while the drone went on: "Eighty… eight… eight… Eighty-five… five, five. Ninety… nine, nine..."

Then it seemed I heard another voice - this one from the Master auctioneer: "Here's a rare antique - fifty years old! An old-fashioned marriage. What will you bid for it? Any offers? Any at all…?"

Picking up another item: "Now, this antique you don't see often either: Faith - faith in Me. Remember My words, 'Whatever is not from faith is sin'? You, over there… What will you offer?"

Most of His hearers uneasily looked another way when He continued with, "Here's another oldie: belief in My promise, 'I will never desert you.' Any bids?"

The Master's closing: "What are such treasures worth to you? Do I hear bids? Sorry, Sir. Sorry, Ma'am. I don't accept cash, checks or credit - or debit - cards

"'Why?' you ask. 'Because these things can't be bought at any cost; they're free - to you from Me."

Just then, an impatient honk behind me dissipated my musings and I drove on - yet continued thinking, An ESTATE SALE like that would be worth patronizing!

Copyright 2012, Isabel Torrey

Isabel Torrey is a freelance writer in King City.