About the Author
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As we pulled up the winding driveway to the house, we immediately noticed an older Mercedes about 100 yards from the entrance to the home. In its window, there was a large handwritten sign that said “For Sale.” Of course, my husband Dennis had to immediately pull over to check out the available vehicle. After inquiring, we learned that the lady’s husband had recently passed away and she was moving to Florida to be closer to her grandchildren. Since we had lived in numerous cities in Florida, we struck up a very nice conversation about Florida and how much we missed the beaches and warmer climate.
After about 10 minutes, we headed up to a beautiful split level home on a sloping lot with an English walk out basement. As we walked in the front door, my eyes were immediately drawn to a piece of artwork still hanging over the fireplace. The art depicted a picture of a lake along a hilly landscape. The scene triggered a flow of childhood memories that brought back a flood of emotions all at once. When I was a child, my entire family would head up to Lake San Antonio in California for a week of family fun and bonding. We would roast marshmallows, hike, boat, and play all day long on the beach. The picture in front of me transported me back to those cherished vacations. The feeling was so strong that I could not only close my eyes and see our camper lakeside, I could even smell the Kentucky Fried Chicken we would always pick up to eat on the first night by the campfire.
As I returned back to the moment, we realized we were blocking the entrance for the group of people coming into the home and decided to move into the living room to take a closer look at the painting. We spent a few minutes in front of that picture and I started telling Dennis about the stories from my childhood. Over half an hour flew by as we sat there talking. But it was in that half-hour that, for the first time, I had escaped the then current reality of my battle with cancer. The conversation was energizing and I was excited to walk through the house and see what else we might find. I really don’t recall much else about the items in the home, but the feelings I felt that day would not leave my thoughts for weeks to come. So much so that I was excited to head to any estate or garage sale I could find. That hour or so had changed everything for me, as I had reverted back in time and relived warm yet dormant memories. And it was through that experience and that moment that I knew I could never give up the fight, as I knew I had way too many memories yet to create with my own family. It was that picture at that house at that estate sale that gave me all I needed to remain motivated and inspired to do all I could to win my battle against cancer.
Over the coming weeks and months, we became regulars at garage sales, yard sales, bazaar sales, flea markets, antique malls, and anywhere else we might find treasures from the past. We started to purchase things that brought back positive memories from our past or elicited some meaningful emotions from within. We also started to purchase items we just found to be unique or even represented just a plain old good deal. But I really knew we were in trouble when Dennis muttered in disbelief that they were asking only $1 for a bunch of all-weather floor mats. To my surprise, he sold them three days later for $78.00. I wasn’t the only who caught the bug: He was hooked as well.
On only our second estate sale visit, we came across a group of pictures and posters in a room that were each marked for $3.00 a piece. As we looked through the pile we noticed a couple of the posters were actually signed. One in particular was a Jazz festival poster from 1997 that was signed by B.B King and eleven or twelve other artists. The poster turned out to be worth $1,500, and if our first estate sale did not have us hooked, this trip sealed the deal for us. We quickly learned that for most people who owned the piles of treasures, they just wanted it to be moved, and were willing to almost give it away. The most efficient way for them to move these items out was to group them into logical bundles and mark them for sale. What had started as a simple escape, had now turned into a weekly excursion and treasure hunt that the whole family would look forward to; a treasure hunt that would provide us life lessons while creating new memories, and lead us on a completely new direction in life.
The Journey: How Garage Sales Kept Us Going