Dot's Purple Martins

Saturday morning I woke up early to a 
surprise Skype visit with my friend Laurel up in Iowa. 
She was on her way to help at an estate sale 
where her husband was serving as the auctioneer. 
She told me about the items she had her eye on; 
I hope she ended up with that plate that says: 
I knew you were coming so I baked you a cake. 

Laurel told me that the owner must have been the kind of lady who bought everything she saw. She said that they had so much stuff to sell, including the collections of nutcrackers and Hummel statues. I mentioned my mom's Hummel collection and how much my sister loves a good estate sale. I told her I'd never been to an estate sale, and we joked about my flying north 
to find myself a treasure.

This is where the story turns kind of ironic. Saturday was one of those days when I woke up with nothing to do and all day to do it. Seriously, the only plan I had was my afternoon power nap. But when John came home from running an errand and asked if I wanted to walk with him to the estate sale at the end of our street, I really thought it more than a coincidence.

Is it just me, or does anyone else leave estate sales feeling
overwhelming sadness?

Her name was Dorothy and all of her stuff was on sale. Full price on Friday, 50% off on Saturday and 75% off on Sunday. Her 33 rpm records were spinning on her phonograph stereo to show that it still works and waft nostalgia through the room. I could almost see Dorothy and her husband dancing together between dinner and dessert. Her cooking gadgets indicate that she loved to create in the kitchen; I wonder what her speciality dish was. Did she prefer to cook or bake? She was probably a casual bowler with a high score of a 158, and I'm certain she enjoyed playing cards because of how worn those double decks of hers were. I can't decide if she preferred Canasta with her grandchildren or Bridge with her friends. Maybe Solitaire? She was a knitter with an unfinished project still on her size-nine needles. The inscription on a statue in the garage roasted her as the 
World's Greatest Mom. 
I couldn't help but wish that her children had wanted more of her stuff. 

She liked to bike with her husband, whose name I didn't find in the home anywhere, but online once I got home. They haven't been biking in a while, though, as evidenced by the flat tires and the rust and dust on their matching Schwinns. I think he may have been a hunter or a veteran, or both, because of the camo clothes and the boots on a shelf in the garage. He also had a few cool prints of some WWI planes that interested John and seemed to have a bit of golf stuff to indicate he liked to swing the clubs now and again. I wonder what he did as a career and if his children followed in his footsteps. By the size of his flowerbeds and garden, I gathered that he had a green thumb; the grapes growing on the vines alongside the house looked positively succulent. I really hope the family that moves in tomorrow appreciates that bumper fig crop and I pray that they'll realize how much water those two newly-planted apple trees will need in this drought.

One of them played the piano, another one of the treasures for sale in their house. I couldn't help but wonder why the kids or grandkids didn't adopt that beautiful instrument

In the end, we came home with that wooden eagle music box above, a mountain bike that Jacob can take to college with him, and a Purple Martin house for our back yard. I can't wait to learn about and provide a home for Dot's Purple Martins.

I'd only met them once, when we went Trick Or Treating at their home back in 2005, and I only remember that because we had Unicef boxes with us and they asked us how they could be sure that we'd actually be turning that money in. Just being understandably cautious, I suppose.
I was glad to know that they hadn't passed away just yet, that they'd simply downsized and moved into an assisted-living center. 

The sad part for me is that they had to leave so much stuff behind,
 to be sold to and go home with the highest bidder. 
Because you can't take it with you.

But the memories associated with the stuff, 
those Dot will likely treasure for a very long time to come.

So today I'm dedicating this Camp Lone Star Benediction,
sung by the 2013 Counselors and Volunteers,
to Dot and her husband: 

Don't worry, Dorothy, your Purple Martins are going to be
just fine!


  1. I didn't get the plate but did come home with hummingbird feeders! Is that interesting how we both ended up with something for the birds?! Kevin snagged a beautiful stoneware pottery canister set for the kitchen.

    1. Yeah, there was a LOT of irony as Saturday unfolded!

  2. What a great story! And you came out a winner - A home for the birds, a fascinating story of Dot's life, and lots of stuff to share with your friend. Thanks for sharing it all here!


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