Recently I was invited to come look through a farmstead that belonged to two older gentlemen. Brothers that had lived their entire lives on the same farm their parents and grandparents were raised on. They were in their late eighties, and not only brothers but best friends. They were a team. Many area people referred to them as “the boys” . They never married, instead chose to spend their lives farming about 800 acres together, (some rented) . They shared the same room up until the end. Each had their own bed and dresser , their own recliner and tv trays beside them… They simply enjoyed one another’s company. They entrusted their estate to their niece Jo Ann who is 72, and has devoted the last 8 years of her life taking care of them. Running them to doctors and such, dialysis appts each week, She is as honest and as true and kind and trustworthy as they come. “JO” ask me to come look at the house content and give her my opinion on whether there was anything there worth having a sale for.
I made my maiden voyage to that farmstead, to check it out and I was hooked. The beauty of the place, the beauty of the story surrounding this family for three generations, the life Albert and Ralph continued to carve was amazing to me .
Allow me to state here quite honestly that I would have PAID THEM for the adventure I was about to embark upon. I would have PAID THEM to wonder through the leaking, hot, dirty, dusty attic , or the damp, wet, Michigan dirt wall basement. I am always into the old things of life. Not just antiques…I treasure the old ways of life. I tell my family over and over that I was born about 100 years too late. I have the heart and mind of person who should have been born in the 1860’s.
After crawling around and digging around I gave this gracious Lady Jo…my opinion about a sale. Most definitely there was enough to have an estate sale and most everything was what people today are searching for. Treasures from the past to be repurposed. Second Chance trinkets.
So began a daunting task. I was pretty much on my own as far as getting furniture, beds etc around for a sale. I enlisted the help of my older brother Stan, when it came to the upstairs. The Brothers, never threw anything away but rather had it shoved upstairs.
Four days later, on a hot July afternoon we had successfully brought down all the large things from the attic and the upstairs. There was only room to crawl through. The downstairs of the house was loaded. Beds…beds and more beds. Did I mention their were 13 children born to the original parents. I imagine a lot of beds were needed. Allow me to mention here, they kept every bed for i found 13 of them in the attic. There were old secretary’s, side boards, desks, tables, dishes, crocks, milk bottles. I mean this was a treasure hunters paradise. You cannot take it with you when you leave this world that is for sure, and even if they had tried to give me everything that I was smitten with, i would have had no where to put it. Still you cant stop the heart from pumping with excitement over it all.
We set up for the sale on a Friday and Saturday. It was tight for folks to get in the house and moving everything outside was out of the question with the heat index and temps of 90 degrees outside. So people came in and out of the house all days and we slide open and slide shut the heavy old metal glass door and kept the air conditioner going.
Its the PEOPLE part of this sale that I enjoyed even more. There are of course the occasional person or two who just cannot be happy. They don’t smile, they bark. They don’t act appreciative for the chance to buy VINTAGE PIECES for YARD SALE PRICES…they almost throw their money at you like you are robbing them. Those folks need to stay home and keep their bad attitudes with them. We had only a hand full of people like that in two days. Of which we were thankful.
Most folks came in, with reverence and respect and honor to be entering a home of someone who had passed…they realized that while this was an estate sale, there are family members still around and still trying to grieve through it all.
Some folks looked around, slowly, carefully, ask a few questions about some items and if they didn’t buy anything they simply nodded their heads and smiled or thanked us and left. Others would come in and comment on how sad it was that they would never get to see “the boys” out farming again when they drove by, or how sad it would be to never see their tiny figures walking around the barns and house. Sometimes they shared stories about the brothers, and everyone would laugh . The TWO BROTHERS left behind a rich legacy that did not have anything to do with money or power. It was touching to be a part of it….to be able to hear all the neighbors….the family….all the stories. It made me feel as if I knew the “boys” and I wished I had.
We also had the few scoundrels that stopped by and all they cared about was what was going to happen to the farms, to the ground, to the equipment. They wanted to go out and look at the trucks, tractors, etc and make offers. Even though they were told the auction for equipment would be next spring. A few were persistent…arrogant in my eyes. I actually had to at one point get very stern with a man that he was not allowed to walk out and look at a couple of old stake trucks. Twice I told him we could not allow the liability of him walking around the farm and when he said again that he was going to walk out there I had to say “NO SIR…you are not ,” I think it was the tone of “SIR” or perhaps it was the way I clipped off my words with gritted teeth that caused him to retreat back to his truck. I have few patience for pushy arrogant people who think because they have money they are better than the average person or that they do not have to adhere to the same rules as everyone else.
NEWSFLASH RICH PEOPLE; When your time comes, you are just as gone, just as dead as the rest of us, and you money won’t buy you one more day, or one more moment.
The sale was a good one, money was collected for the estate….the house was emptied of about half its contents and I got to enjoy spending some time with some good quality people. Jo will be forever in my heart, I treasure and respect this woman and all that life has dealt her, and let me tell you, she had sustained the heaviest blows, a couple times and still she smiles. Still she is good and kind and pleasant. She lost a beautiful son at age24, while playing basketball with friends. His heart exploded leaving behind a wife and 2 small children. Then Jo’s daughters came down with cancer and she was gone in 6 months, and less than a year later her husband had brain cancer and he died. She says “I have one of my three children still alive.” Such incredibly sadness.
One afternoon digging through the attic I found this item. It was so awesome in my eyes…and I told Jo, who was waiting at the attic door..how cool was my find and how much she was going to be awe struck by it. I carried it to the door and showed her with the biggest gust of excitement and she gave it a once over and said “That is so not me…not interested in that at all”. We both just roared….I bought the item. Its a hand made cabin that dates back quite a few years and I believe it was the beginnings of a childs pioneer farm set. I found this other oddity and thought it looked like a building of some sort it wasn’t until I was home cleaning up the cabin that it dawned on me that was a hand made silo to go with the cabin and then of course that had to come home with me also. My plan is to leave the cabin sitting in my farm house and at Christmas time I will string some tiny lights on it and place animals all around it..but first I will have to figure out a way to make the top of the silo and keep that older vintage look .
THANK YOU GOD that folks like these brothers kept the old things that belonged to their parents and grandparents and didn’t clean house and toss these things away. Sometimes when I ponder on my own mortality I get nervous at what my children might have to sift through, I worry about the history behind the special family heirlooms I have , will they mean anything to them, will they understand the significance they held for me…..should I burn 37 years of journals…will anyone want them…who will know my great great grandfathers pocket watch, or my great great grandfathers Civil War diary….who will carry on with the genealogy research and keep the history up to date…..
Its sad that when we leave nothing goes with us, and most of the time we don’t get to say any final goodbyes or leave last minute wishes or instructions. We are suppose to enjoy today, and not worry about tomorrow and not waste time on yesterday…but how do you live in today and not remember or discuss yesterday and not plan for tomorrow. Crazy…life questions.
I don’t know those answers….I am a mere human being and I am doing the best I can each and every day to appreciate all that is around me , to let people know through my actions or words that they hit the mark for me just as they are. I believe in loving and being kind and giving , and forgiving. Its a wonderful life….if we just don’t weaken and can sustain all the storms that inevitably come.
An estate has always been a place of reverence for me, no matter who’s it was. This Family sale will be etched in my heart forever and I hope that “the boys” were able to see us, and the care and respect we gave to their possessions and how much we learned from them and appreciate that once upon a time there was a set of brothers. Known as THE BEST BOYS in Buchanan Michigan.
This is Jo Ann, in the middle who has been fighting cancer, and is currently in remission. And the lady on the right side of the photo is her mom….we all call Babe. She is a fire cracker, and I love her so so much. She kisses me on the lips every time she see me. And as odd as that sounds, I treasure her greetings, her stories that she has shared with me. I love ,love, love her.