Day 30 of retirement and I am still here and smiling. I am smiling because Kurt's not here...
I can honestly say we have been busier since he retired than before. I don't know if its just coincidence, that events are coming up to keep us on the move or if we now have the time to attend those things we would have brushed off, rushing to work or the more important events. Funny how being retired allows us to slow down and yet do more with less. If that makes sense, you must be retired.
Anyway, yesterday we attended the living estate auction of a good friend of Kurt's. Its only the second living estate auction I have been to, but I have a feeling you will see more and more of these as people no longer want to just sit in their homes and finish out their lives and let the kids take care of the "stuff" of their lives. Many are selling their homes and many just don't want all the things they have accumulated over the years. This isn't usually garage sale stuff but collections that people amass as a hobby, that are actually worth something, but things their children do not want.
In Kurt's friend's case, he is a bachelor who has suffered recent severe medical and emotional problems. Throughout his adult life he worked, fished and duck hunted. He might have been considered a "hoarder" as his collections numbered in the thousands of everything. His small house was jammed with all the paraphernalia of fishing and hunting.
I come upon my love of auction sales, quite honestly. When I was a young kid, my parents fell in love with antiquing. Growing up in the upswing of the Great Depression, their parents considered anything new so much better than the hand-me-downs they had lived their entire lives with. My dad told of dry wells loaded with old oak furniture, discarded for new, as an easy alternative to ridding themselves of the cumbersome pieces. My parents were influenced by our neighbor and good friend, Joyce, who always dreamed of someday opening her own shop. They began browsing antique shops and would plan trips around the antique places they could visit. Country auction sales were kind of a natural extension to the antique shop experience. By the time I graduated high school I was a seasoned auction attendee. I had already learned how to strip furniture and look for sturdy pieces, but envision what old broken pieces could become.
When I married Kurt, he was a novice at the auction thing, but I indoctrinated him quickly, along with help from my brother and his wife. We would pack the kids up and spend many a Saturday at tree shaded country auctions, the kids playing in whatever box of "stuff" we bought off the jewelry wagon. For a buck or two, I could watch the rest of the auction and keep the kids busy. A winner in my book. Most of my antiques came into being through auction sales. Before people really knew what many antiques and collectibles were worth, boxes of treasures were sold on jewelry wagons and wonderful small items were almost always in those boxes. It was like our own personal treasure hunt, every time.
Kurt usually stood in the background and let me do the bidding and picking out of what to buy. But he was taking notes and years later after other pursuits and life had disrupted our auction attending for well over a decade, he was the one who came back to it with renewed zeal.
This was our third auction of the year, something unheard of for us just a couple of short years ago. We really didn't need any more stuff, the country's recession had hit us and the auction market, and stuff is no longer bought to adorn a house or add a little something extras. Most of us want to strip down that "junky" country look we once loved and just have a few select things. For us now, less is more and we have learned to "edit" as the buzzword goes.
But this was an auction for a friend, and while I am not personally into 800 or more kinds of fishing lures, I went to accompany Kurt and to talk to family, who I knew personally were going through an ordeal with selling all of these things. To some it may have been astounding and funny to see the myriad of fishing paraphernalia one man had collected, much still in the packaging, but to us it was bittersweet and sad in knowing buying this stuff was his comfort and his obsession and in the end was a large part of the problem.
Through all of the past year I have learned to be grateful and I mean, deeply grateful for the many blessings I have. Its the small every day miracles I now take quiet joy. I enjoyed the auction through the sadness. The family talked to me and unburdened and they needed that. There were many others who were just amazed at the great deals to be had and even some young people who I knew would be hooked for life on hobbies and perhaps auctions never before surmised. I watched as some teenagers bought a large tackle box full of ....tackle. They spent 15 minutes looking through all that they had bought, delighted as toddlers over Christmas.
My son, daughter in law and grandson showed up for the end of the auction, and Luca delighted us all with his first real steps. My daughter in law caught it on video and I smile as a young friend counts Luca's steps and cheers him on. Kurt's hands are seen waiting for Luca as he toddles forward, a smile of pure delight on his face. I had forgotten how magical those first steps are, and now I remember.
Its these common moments woven together that are the fabric of life. And an auction sale gave me all of these lessons....at least for today.