Giving new life to old stuff

On Saturday, we waved goodbye to my mother-in-law‘s furniture and miscellaneous items. There’d been an estate sale at the end of September, but much remained. We didn’t want to add to the landfill so put a FREE STUFF ad on Craigslist and let people know they could come from 10AM-2PM to claim whatever they wanted. Zippy and I went early to set up (including our Corsi-Rosenthal Box and free N95 masks) and to vacuum and dust off furniture. When we arrived at 9:15, a pickup/camper with a trailer was already in the driveway. As we unloaded our car, the man got out to approach us but I shouted to him that the doors would open at 10AM. Zippy and I hurried inside to get set.

At 10:00, there was a short line at the door. Turned out, they were all there for the same piece of furniture (which ended up going to the first in line). In the bustle of dealing with those folks (plus the several who came to check out the exercise bike), I lost track of the man in the pickup. A while later, I realized he was still in his vehicle and waved him inside. He came into the house and quietly began looking at what was available. When I asked if there was anything in particular he was looking for (because the furniture was spread throughout the house), I realized he spoke Spanish and not a lot of English. And then it hit me that he probably hadn’t caught what I’d yelled across the driveway to him when we arrived, and quite possibly hung back at 10:00 due to shyness/intimidation/uncertainty. He’d been the first to arrive yet an English-speaking person claimed a lovely buffet he may very well have wanted. I wished I could rewind and avoid the miscommunication.

But there were no do-overs.

After that initial rush of people was over, no one else showed up for our little giveaway. Not one more person. That’s the bad news. The good news? El hombre found much that he wanted to take! We spent the next couple hours loading three sofas, a freezer, two bed frames and mattresses, the exercise bike, lamps, tables, chairs, clothing, and a whole lot of miscellaneous stuff on his trailer and in the camper. The best part? We became so comfortable with each other that Estevao corrected my Spanish. “Uno más,” he said after I incorrectly announced “Un más” while shuttling bed frame pieces to his trailer. Unfortunately, much of my Spanish vocabulary eluded me and I found myself saying, “Lo siento,  no entiendo” more than I would’ve liked, but we managed.  Moving mattresses in narrow hallways and low-ceilinged stairways has a way of unifying people. It was kind of sad saying goodbye.

As Estevao headed out the driveway on his way to Chihuahua, Mexico, I hurriedly took pictures with my crappy phone camera.

I’d felt some anxiety as we prepared for Saturday. Despite the detailed information included in the Craigslist post earlier that week, I was getting emails asking questions about availability, taking stuff earlier, reserving items. Questions that were clearly answered in the post. Zippy and I don’t do indoor gatherings (in order to protect our health and that of others), so the thought of being in a house with a whole bunch of people wearing masks under their noses wasn’t appealing. But Saturday turned out to be a good experience.

Yes, there were lots of emotions being in my mother-in-law’s nearly empty home, watching it become even more empty. Knowing we’d never again gather there as a family brought tears. But Zippy and I got to spend time with a kind, properly-masked man who saw a use for items we no longer wanted or needed. He was breathing new life into my mother-in-law’s belongings.

Days later, I keep thinking about Estevao, hoping he had a safe journey to Mexico. It wasn’t until he was in the driver’s seat that my brain kicked in and I remembered “¡Buen viaje!” which I shouted too late. He probably didn’t hear my words, but I hope he felt the sentiment. I wish him nothing but the best.

2 thoughts on “Giving new life to old stuff

    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Marcia. I’m sorry you’re also facing that monumental task of clearing out your parents’ home. The experience has motivated me to clear out some of my things so that our sons won’t be overwhelmed when their time comes. There’s still much to do, though.


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