The Yard Sale

Funny how the simplest things often have the biggest impact in our lives.  I was only five years old, but I remember it well.  Dad told mom he wanted to hit some of the yard sales in the neighborhood.  She just rolled her eyes because she did not share in his enthusiasm for “buying other people’s junk.”  Dad, however, always felt there could be hidden treasure out there.  To him, that treasure might be finding a good rake for $2.

Dad turned to the little me and asked, “Want to go, Jul?”  I was only too happy to go on an adventure with him.  As small as I was, there was something appealing about how dad described yard sales.  I ran to my room where I promptly raided the pink piggy bank of the $3. it contained, mostly in coins.  Instinctively, I somehow knew the drill.

Mom was right about many of the sales; a lot of it looked like junk.  So dad and I continued walking through the large neighborhood, hand in hand, in hopes of bringing home a keeper.

As we headed up a long driveway, I caught a glimpse of it in the sunshine — the prettiest owl I had ever seen.  You would have thought I had found my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and my eyes remained focused on that owl until it landed in my little hands for me to study.  I turned it over and dad told me it said it was made in Mexico … a pottery owl made in Mexico.  Wow!  I had to have it.  The masking tape sticker said $1.

Dad tried to talk me out of it because $1 was a lot of money in 1967.  But my stubborn streak had already made itself known and he gave in to the Mexican owl.  He taught me how to negotiate with the owner, but she must have liked the owl too, for she refused to come down from the dollar.  It was okay because I really wanted it.  Believe it or not, I still have the memory of handing that lady the money and her handing me the coveted owl.  Mom never said a word about my owl, but probably thought dad had just created a yard sale monster.

I still have that owl in my kitchen and yes, I still love it.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


It’s no longer the aesthetic value that holds my heart, but what the owl represents.  Little did I know then, that my life would be dedicated to the understanding and handling of personal property and the many issues that come with it — how to sell it, what it’s worth, what should be kept, donated and thrown away, etc.  I had no inkling that I would eventually become The Estate Lady®.  Looking back, I can see clearly how that one special day with dad helped shape a little girl.

Just as my father’s dementia was getting really bad, I recounted this story for him and handed him the owl as he sat at my kitchen table.  I told him he was the one who sent me on this journey when I was only 5 years old and that he lead me to my purpose.  Dad studied the owl and ran his fingers along the edge.  He turned it over to reveal the word “Mexico.”  Suddenly, his face lit up as he recognized it from long time ago.  I saw his eyes tear up and he asked me how long it had been since that day at the yard sale.

“Forty-five years, Dad.  It’s been 45 years since then.”

As dad continued to reflect on the owl and that memory we both managed to preserve, he simply said, “Where did the time go, dear?  It goes so fast.”

Dad died shortly thereafter.  Even with dementia, we shared a powerful memory when all else was lost.  Now the owl is even more precious to me!

©2013 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising.  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation.

Published in: on July 15, 2013 at 11:32 am  Comments (4)  

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What a sweet memory!

  2. This story moved me to tears, Julie. Not much does that anymore, but your essays often do, and they always touch my heart. What a beautiful and precious memory you have.

    I also have some of that Mexican pottery – a tiny little owl (much smaller than yours) which belonged to my beloved Aunt Emily…..interesting, that.

    Best to you,

    Melissa C Williams /The Moving Diva/ Boise, Idaho

  3. Another beautiful, very moving story Julie. You are a wonderful writer and have the ability to bring the reader right into your stories…..thanks!

  4. What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing!

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