They’re a lovely family. A young couple with a little boy and another baby on the way.  I met them last weekend while my sisters and I were cleaning out my dad’s house and preparing for the estate sale on Saturday.

I’ve always found the term “estate sale” to be misleading. It sounds like the sale of precious and valuable furniture and antiques from wealthy patrons who lived in grand houses. And I’m sure that in some cases, that’s exactly what it is. But it’s also – as was the case with my dad – a way to dispose of everyday items that had been used by everyday people living ordinary, everyday lives. My sisters and I had already chosen the items that meant the most to us and that we’d have use for. We gave away other items and mementos to family members and friends who would enjoy and appreciate them. We made a number of trips to Goodwill to donate clothing and other items, and now we were planning an estate sale to take care of everything else left in the house. Heavy furniture, pictures hanging on the walls, dishes and silverware. Things I had looked at or used thousands of times in the years I spent growing up there and the many times we visited my dad since then.

On the day of the sale, I had mixed feelings whenever anything was purchased and carried away. A part of me was happy that another item had been checked off the list and was going to a new owner who could use it. But another part of me looked at it with fresh eyes, seeing again something I had looked at so often that I didn’t really even notice it anymore, but realizing now that I would never see it again. A dozen times over the weekend I found myself reaching into a drawer for a fork or spoon that wasn’t there anymore, or opening a cabinet to grab an item that was long gone.

The young couple who stopped by weren’t there because of the estate sale. They were there because they’re the family that bought my dad’s house. They came over because of some paperwork that needed to be signed, but it also gave my sisters and me a chance to meet them, to answer some of their questions, and to share some stories about the house and the neighborhood. It also reassured us to know that my dad would be very pleased to have them living in his house.

We let them know that they couldn’t ask for better neighbors than the people living on both sides of the house, and that the church and school a few blocks away – where they’re planning to worship and enroll their kids – are the same ones we attended, and where my parents, one of my sisters, and I were each married.

Saying goodbye to my dad’s house was difficult. But it was made easier by knowing that a lovely young couple will be watching their children grow up in the house, and will be making the same kind of memories there that the house holds for me. Our goodbye is their hello. And the best relief for a difficult ending is knowing that it is providing someone else with a bright new start.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on July 3, 2014.
©Betty Liedtke, 2014

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