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The Great, Estate

Okay, last time, I had us in Old Town, but I was doing a flash back. Specifically, I was talking about the Estate Sale we had in 2015 shortly after my parents passed on. We had found ourselves in possession of their house...which was stuffed from floor to ceiling (in couple of places, that wasn’t an exaggeration) with art, jewelry, Native American pottery and art, computers, LP records, cooking toys, etc., etc., and, of course, etc.

It was quite astonishing, really, and it made me swear to cut my own possessions down to a bare minimum so that I don’t similarly burden my own kids. But, of course, I probably won’t manage that. Good intentions and all that.

About the photos: Three today. First, my Mom and Dad on a boat tour we took with them on their last visit to South Padre Island, Texas, a place they loved. The second is of them on the same trip, walking a beach that was accessible only by duck boat (i.e., amphibious vehicle). It was a great trip and we all had fun. (These are photos that Martha took, btw.)

The third picture is literally the last picture I have of their home. I had just cleaned out the house and was about to put it up for sale. It is sad and dark, but I also felt that their presence was no longer there. It felt like they had gone on, I hope happily, to whatever awaits us.

Though there were some genuinely scary incidents. For one thing, we found a couple of things that were really quite valuable -- jewelry, money, some gold coins -- that had been simply been tossed in a pile on a desk or a table and forgotten.

Even more frightening was that they had an enclosed back patio. After my mother’s first stroke, my Dad did most of the cooking...and he was a pretty good cook, btw. And he was equally good as a home craftsman. He could build almost anything.

Except...he got sort of eccentric toward the end. Thus, we discovered that he had rigged up a gas stove on the patio. He used it to barbecue on those occasions when they wanted to “eat outside.” Which was fine, but...well... my Dad was a great re-user of stuff, particularly things he’d pulled out of his rental properties. One of his former tenants had abandoned a wooden cabinet with an attached workbench. He used this t0 build his grill -- putting in a stove top and connecting it to gas line that came out onto the patio.

Okay, so let’s sum up what we’ve got. A wooden...i.e., flammable...structure being used as a cook surface and attached via a DIY connector to a natural gas pipe that led into the house. Got all that? Great.

I opened the cabinet up just to see what was inside. I was promptly terrified to discover that he’d rigged up a grease drip that drained into an old glass jar. It was chock-o-block full of grease and dripping down over the side of the cabinet and over the gas line. In short, the thing was a towering inferno just waiting for casting and special effects.

I spent a rather complicated day disassembling the thing. I felt a bit like I was an unpaid extra in The Hurt Locker. Except done as a comedy. With me as the bumbling third stooge from the left trying to figure out if I should cut the red wire or the green...

I also ended paying a plumber to examine the natural gas line that came out onto on the patio. Turned out it was safe. (Whew.) Just not something that should have been attached to a cabinet made out of plywood and paper.


So, like I said, there we were in this house, which was full of stuff. That’s why we contacted Connie and that’s why she sent a team over to help us sort everything out. At first, it was her two friends (also her employees). Then, there was a third who came now and then. Then she had her brother drop by to help. Then, she came when she could get away from the shop. And, of course, there were the two of us. So, at various times, it was up to six individuals sorting, cleaning, and pricing the various items.

It took us the greater part of ten days to get it all done. God love them, Connie and her crew managed it all with extraordinary speed and care. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but, somehow they did it.

Special kudos to Connie for what she would not sell. Several times she would look at things and say, “That is too valuable. You don’t want it here. It will get stolen.” Some of those items she took and sold for us in her shop. Others she refused to have even there--the gold jewelry for instance. She took one look at it, recognized it as genuine -- “not costume”--and said she couldn’t have it in the shop “because it is just too much.” Fortunately, she knew people who did deal in such things, and they could help us.

Finally, everything was ready. The big day came.

At that time, we were living not far from my parents’ old house. So, early in the day, we walked down the block on a crisp autumn morning. And there, before us, in a line stretching out and down the street, were hordes of people, waiting for the doors to open.

 And, I must confess, at that moment, I was strangely proud of my parents. I knew, you see, that even then, a year after my mother’s passing, and several months after my father’s, they still had the power to fascinate others. They were always unique. Always challenging the world’s assumptions of what is normal and acceptable. And always capable of drawing to themselves those men and women who love what is new and remarkable.

And, now, their possessions would prove that one last time.

But more about that next time.

Copyright©2024 Michael Jay Tucker


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