I ran some errands Sunday morning, and on my way home, I saw a sign for an estate sale in Watervliet. My Grandma Betty, who never passed an estate sale without at least looking inside, would never have let me pass this one up. And heck, it was only three blocks off my trip, so what’s the harm in stopping?
The estate sale was held at a small house in Watervliet, only a stone’s throw from the railroad tracks. I went inside. Beautiful furniture and treasures with little white stickers on them, price tags so low you would think everything fell off the back of a truck.
Eventually, after a little searching here and there, I found an old ice cream scoop. It’s the kind where you push a lever and a little rail frees the ice cream from the scoop. It had a $2 sticker; the estate sale banker gave it to me for $1 (with eight cents sales tax).
It wasn’t until I came home with the scoop that I realized the scoop’s gears were misaligned. The slicer doesn’t go all the way through the barrel of the scoop. Oh well, what should I expect for $1.08?
Then again … I thought about a few things as I put the ice cream scoop in the sink with the other dirty dishes.
Someone purchased that scoop before they died. I don’t know how many pints of ice cream that scoop brought forward, or even if the gears were misaligned from all the scooping. I don’t know.
I do know, however, that the ice cream scoop came from what was at the time a well-stocked kitchen – or at least as well-stocked as the second day of an estate sale would realize. How many pie a la modes and desserts of Stewart’s Philly Vanilla did this scoop enjoy?
Unfortunately, however, there’s a sad realization about this scoop. The only way I have possession of this utensil is because its previous owner passed away, and that it – along with all the other utensils and furniture and jewelry and carpets and brick-a-brac – were in liquidation. The treasures were sold off for whatever pennies they could garner.
It’s like the sad feeling of bidding on a storage locker and realizing you’re tossing out whoever’s life was kept in that metallic unit. Treasured clothes? Off to Goodwill or to the dump. A record collection? Maybe $2 per LP, $3 if it’s the Beatles or Elvis. The sentimental and emotional value of an item holds no tangible currency.
Such is the case with everything I’ll ever own.
The day I die, all my worldly possessions will find new homes. Some are earmarked for specific bequests; others will find the auction or the estate sale. I won’t be able to decide who buys what – heck, by that time, my body will be harvested for whatever parts can be saved for someone else, and the remains scattered somewhere unimportant.
In other words, my life on this earth is finite. I can’t take my treasures with me. Nor can I take my memories or my emotions.
And I have an ice cream scoop to remind me of that. This ice cream scoop is now a tangible talisman of the fragility and finality of life. Death is undefeated, and we only get one shot in this thing we call an existence.
Maybe that’s the real message about estate sales and such. It’s just about acquiring used items for dirt cheap. It’s about remembering that these items – like the owners that once possessed them – have journeys as well.
And come the day I’m breathing my last, someone else will own this ice cream scoop.
Hopefully at a price of at least $3.00.
Plus 8% sales tax.