Conrad had an all around town garage sale day. There were 40+ sales and we made it tom most of them. It was fun to find all the neat little treasures that other people wanted to get rid of. However our little treasures were not what stuck with me as the day continued on. It was the little old lady that we met at one of the sales.
She was short and spoke loudly mostly because she couldn’t hear her own volume and she had coke bottle thick glasses. It was her sale and most everything there was artistically based. There were wood placards and books on painting and an entire wall and table full of little framed paintings.
At one point she proclaimed loudly, sadly and a little bitterly that not one person who had come to her sale had been a painter. So of course I had to say something. I pointed at my daughter and said, “She paints.”
My daughter cringed. She wants to be an artist but she is scared to talk to anyone about it. The little old lady lit up and bustled right over. She told us all about how her husband had wanted to be artistic and so she had worked at JCPenny’s while he stayed home and fiddled around with art.
“He used to say “A chunk of wood and vision…a jackknife and a chisel.’ that was all we had and he created this,” she pointed to the bear sculpture. She said they had been portrait photographers for 48 years and she had taken up painting on wooden plaques. She talked about how his father had come here when he was 12 years old in 1905 with his own dad with everything they owned packed in a train car.
“He’s been gone 22 years now,” she said and pointed at the table. “That’s his life story. For sale for $3.”
I had found her story fascinating but this last statement brought tears to my eyes. A life of such beauty, hardship, and triumph in love and in art and yet it was for sale for $3. The cost of a man’s life in a little paper book. I wanted to hug her but she would probably think I was insane.
At that moment someone got her attention because they wanted to buy some of her paintings and she turned away from us. I left that garage sale wondering how much my life would be worth if they sold it in a little book. Probably not near $3.