The yard sale idea was hatched when friends of a young couple on a journey to adopt a baby came together to lend a hand, organizing a sale to help with the expenses of adoption.
In a week’s time, those friends, family and neighbors filled a parking bay with furniture and books, bedding, rolling stock, (bicycles, tricycles and scooters) and dishes.
I was the consumer of the day. Once my purchases were tallied, I brought home more stuff than I donated to the sale.
Here’s my excuse. The father-to-be grew up at the site of the yard sale and his boyhood chest of drawers was among the items leaving home. It was perfect for my grandson, a sophomore in college, who has no space for an ever-growing stack of t-shirts, favors from fraternity weekends.
I also found two etchings of fish, perfect for a guy who grew up casting a line in the water with my husband, his father. I carted home other treasures: a bowl patterned with water lilies, slightly stained, but nice on my daughter’s coffee table; and a platter in the shape of a rabbit. (I have a friend who is big on Easter brunches.)
I can’t explain why I bought two pottery ash trays since nobody I know smokes, but yard sales are not places for measured decisions.
The sweetest moment of the day came when the baby-to-be’s cousin-to-be spotted a set of Thomas the Train sheets. He wrapped them around his precious self and beamed.
By sunset, the sheets had been washed by his mother and were in place on the big boy bed in his room. He turned his back on his familiar resting place, jumped into 100 percent cotton images of cartoon train engines and slept like a lamb.
The Sunday following, I sat in a pew in church, listening to a sermon on “Where your treasure lies, there will your heart lie also.” I felt a beam of light shining on me, the one when you’re certain the sermon bringer knows your flaws and is reminding you to mend your ways.
The top of my spine hit the back of the pew as I hunkered down in my seat, taking up as little space as possible, knowing the basement in my house is not Aladdin’s Cave and needs to be purged.
The yard sale was a reminder of how years and generations take empty space, filling it with hand-me-downs, no longer needed and crying out for a proper winnowing.
My mother’s cedar chest, still home to a World War II parachute, is a dusty basement relic of another time, a space for baby shoes, stuffed with paper, and an old wrap-around fur collar, aging next to folded silk and packets of newspaper clippings.
None of its holdings are yard sale material, too personal and fragile with age. When I think of the history in that old chest, I ponder a proper burial for remnants from a time of war and terrible wounds, from scarred homecomings.
But, for today, a baby will soon be held in the arms of a mother and father, christened his adoptive parents. Baby T. will grow up in a loving family, and, one day, he will hear the story of his cousin’s Thomas the Train sheets.
When my grandson moves his chest of drawers into his first house, a piece of Baby T.’s history will clasp hands with a generation yet to come.
These tender musings do not excuse me from cleaning out the basement and dealing with a cedar chest filled with the ache of time. But what matters is, a baby chosen by a couple to be their own will come home, be named and cherished. Sweet dreams, Baby T.
Judy Elliott is an award-winning columnist from Marietta.