Monday, March 31, 2014

Grandpa's Jacket

I'll never forget the biggest thrift haul of my life. A whole retirement community, that is located just a few blocks from my house, was having their annual neighborhood yard sale. Of the 50 or so houses in the neighborhood, more than half of them were participating and had all of their goods displayed nicely in their driveways and garages. These are the types of sales that people like me drool over and I was there bright and early with a larger than average budget and an empty car waiting to be filled.

The very first house I went to on that day nearly wiped out my budget and filled up half of my car. I couldn't help it. Everything in the house was being sold and the prices were set to sell fast. I went over table after table of knick knacks and kitchen goods and sorted through box after box of clothes. As I searched, more and more stuff kept flowing out of the home. I could've stayed there all day.

I quickly learned, from the woman who was running the sale, that the previous owner of the home had recently died and she was in charge of getting rid of everything. She was slightly irritated by this responsibility, because not only was the previous owner a grumpy old lady, but she was also a hoarder. Now she was in charge of getting rid of everything and it was an overwhelming task. When I asked her for a deal on the 5+ boxes I had filled, she was more than happy to oblige. I even offered to help her with her sale in any way and even though she seemed grateful to have someone offer assistance, she politely declined. 

I felt sorry for her and I kept watching her as I loaded my car up. You could see the exhaustion in her face and I wished there was something more I could do for her. At least I helped by taking a huge load of stuff off of her hands and giving her a big chunk of my budget. But, I thought about her all day as I was shopping and I thought about the woman who recently died and whose stuff I had packed into my car. I imagined her grumpy old spirit was riding in the back seat cursing me for taking her favorite shirts. Even when I got home and started hanging up the clothes I bought from there, I could almost hear her telling me which ones were her favorites, which ones belonged to her late husband and warning me to not ruin anything or there would be consequences. I do believe a spirit can be attached to things and if there is any spirit that would do that, it would likely be one that was a stingy, grouchy hoarder in their life. 

Flash forward about a month or so.

One day I got a message on my etsy shop about one of the jackets I had listed from that yard sale. The message went like this:

Just was wondering what state and or city you might have got this from looking for my grandpas old coat sounds silly but means a lot to me:) any info helps thank u so much!

I knew exactly where I got that coat. I couldn't help but to remember, because every time I touched anything from that sale I could hear that crotchety old woman in my head, warning me not to ruin her stuff. I told her where I got it, but didn't include the details about stingy hoarder lady it came from.

She replied that she was certain it had to be her Grandpa's coat, because the measurements were the same and he lived in this area and it was a somewhat rare coat that you just don't find often. Then she told me why she was so desperately searching for his coat. 

I've paraphrased her message, it went something like this:

My Grandpa lived here in Michigan and when he re-married, he moved to Phoenix, AZ. He would come back and visit, but when he passed, his "not so nice" wife took everything! So, my mom, her brother and sister didn't get any thing of their Dad's and neither did any of his grandkids.

*a "not so nice" old lady who wouldn't get rid of anything? that sounds about right.

The message continued:

I found out that his wife passed, so I started looking online for a few of my Grandpa's things that I always remembered him by. And I found his U.S. Navy coat! Still looking for a road runner belt, but law of attraction, I will find it. So cool you came across it not knowing, but maybe it spoke to you. 

*it did sort of speak to me for sure

message continued:

I thank you. I can't wait for my mom to have one memento of her Dad's to hang on to and to keep her warm. So awesome!

My heart did a couple things when I read this. First, it sort of welled up inside me and I felt like the Grinch when his heart grows at the end. Then it sort of worked it's way into a lump in my throat and got stuck there. That's right about the time my eyes got a little watery and I swallowed the lump which went back down to where my heart is supposed to be and radiated warmth throughout my entire body. It was truly a heart warming story. (see what I did there? hardy har har) 

And it was a story with a side of justice! That cantakerous, greedy old woman no longer had a hold on the physical world and finally some of her precious hoard was going to the people that it rightfully belonged to.

To add to the story, the buyer sent me a couple of pictures of her Grandpa wearing the coat. 

I carefully packed up the coat and imagined the old lady grimacing over my shoulder as she saw the address it was being shipped to. It made me laugh out loud and I think I just may have laughed her defeated spirit away for good. 

The buyer was going to surprise her mom with the coat, but then she sent me this message:

I had to tell her. She's so excited! She was like, "What?! How'd you find it? No way! Are you sure?!" I showed her pics. She had to let it set in and then she cried. I can't wait for it! I can't wait to show the family!

And the next day, I got another message:

I got his coat! OMG! I love it! And so does my mom. So, get this: we go to Michael's to get some craft stuff and I'm like, "I have this coupon that's good til the 8th. What's today's date?"
Mom replies, "It's the 6th. Oh! Today is Daddy's birthday!"
We both just looked at each other. How funny we got the coat on my Grandpa's birthday! Unreal! Just unreal! So funny. We're still laughing about it. 

What are the odds of all that?! It's so special. I've always loved making up stories about the vintage items I've found. I like to imagine the previous owners and how they got their things and what those things meant to them. Now, I have a true and heartfelt story about something I bought. It really makes it all worth while. If I had never sold any other thing, but this, from my shop, I would be fully satisfied. 

I truly hope this coat brings them a little bit of joy. I hope that somewhere under all those years of storage, maybe they can get a little scent of grandpa. I hope that he is looking down on them, smiling as they wear it. And I hope that I can track down that road runner belt buckle for them too! 

Here is the pic of the buyer wearing the coat. 

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