Sunday, November 28, 2010

Old Codger....

......or do you deliver?

Dismantling the house is tough.
All I wanted to do after David died was run. Run away. Go somewhere, anywhere. Keep busy. Frantic pace. Go, go, go. Anything to get away from the awful truth. That which I could not change.

And so I cleaned, I sorted, gave away, threw away and held a garage sale. My kids brought up all the junk from the basement and settled it into the garage.

One nice Saturday morning, in August, I got up at 5:00 a.m. and hauled all of the stuff out in the driveway. I did not think. I could not think. So I priced everything at $5.00. Tables, a television, old VCR, dressers, lazy-boy-chair, old tools (well they went for a dollar), electric leaf blower, weed trimmer, my old wood-working projects, bunches of knick-knacks, and old garden rakes, shovels and whatever else was down there. Most of it was sold. The rest I donated.

Then I looked around the living areas. What do I want to get rid of? What do I not want to drag to a new house? One of the first things I decided to let go of was the old stereo system. It still worked (somewhat), so I put ads up at my local grocery store.

A young music student wanted the ancient turntable and speakers. I sold them to her for $20.00. She did not want the rest of the unit. Hmmmm. Now what to do? The tuner and radio were alright, and the CD player was still decent, but without speakers.....
Then there was the stand. Even though it was made of pressed wood, it was still pretty good. I re-posted the ad, asking $15.00 for the stand. The rest I would figure out what to do with later on.

The telephone rang early in the evening.
"Hello? Is this the stereo stand?"
"Um, yes." I answered.
"Well, is it still available?"
"Yes, it is."
"Yes!" This guy sounded really really old. I don't think he could hear very well.
"Oh good."
"Yes..." I encouraged.
He coughed once or twice. Said something to somebody else who must have been in the same room. It sounded like "what do I tell her?"

"Ah, lady?"
"Yes, I'm still here"
"Could I come and look at it."
Gee, that's a tough one (LOL).
"Sure, when would you like to come over?"
This old codger mumbled something to his roommate. I guess they were conferring.
"Is it still $15.00?"
I hesitated. Actually, I'd forgotten what price I'd asked, since I'd priced and repriced so many items.
"That's what the ad says!" he sounded indignant and grumpy yet I hadn't answered his question.
"Then that's what the price is." I confirmed. "When would you like to come by?"
"O.K. I'll call you later." Click.

Two minutes later the phone rang again.
"Hello? Is this the stereo stand?"
"Um, yes."
", I don't have a car. Do you deliver?"
I nearly dropped the phone. Do I deliver? Am I a store? A delivery service? For a fifteen dollar cabinet? Well, I couldn't help myself. I had to laugh. Told him I couldn't lift it into my car. He said he'd try to get somebody to help him.

No, this is not the end. There's more.
A few mornings later, I opened the door to see a very old man on my doorstep. He'd come by bicycle.
I just stared at him. I knew who he was because he had called earlier.
"You can't take this home by bicycle!"
"Oh, I know that, lady. I just came to look at it."
I was impressed. He had ridden his ancient bicycle about two miles to get to me and all the roads were uphill. Talk about perseverance and stamina! And he looked about 85 years old!

"Well, come in." I felt bad. I should have just lugged it into my car and delivered the dang thing. "Would you like some tea?" I asked him. It was a cool morning and I felt sorry for the old guy.
"Oh, no thanks, I have the flu."
Oh..... I took 2 steps away from him, as he coughed and blew his nose.

Long story short, he paid me the money, told me I'd miss this really good cabinet (gee, I don't think so) and arranged to pick it up later. Still feeling a little guilty at the old guy coming out when he was sick and on his bike too, I gave him the CD player and radio that went with it. He didn't want it, so gave it to his daughter-in-law, who was driving the pick-up truck.

Hope they enjoyed their treasures.


Rambling Woods said...

I am so sorry Wendy..I went back and read the posts through the summer. I am so sorry for your loss. Simple words for those who can't come up with better ones like me. You articulate your feelings so well. I hope you will find more peace in nature...I know that I do....Michelle

mxtodis123 said...

That must have been so hard for you. But, that tale of the old man. I wonder what his reasoning come all that way on his bike...with the flu, no less.

Wendy said...

Thank you, Michelle for your kindness.

Hi Mary, his reasoning? Old school. Old-fashioned values. He really wanted that cabinet and by hook or by crook, he was going to come and see if it was as good as he thought it might be. Then he could pay me and worry about picking it up later. Tough old bird. Perhaps a trifle worried that at that price somebody else would get there first.

Beverly said...

Oh my, you are doing what I should have been doing for so long. When my daughter was living with me last year, she worked at helping me get rid of some "stuff." Now she has moved on, and here I sit. All my family (all 3 of them) are in Virginia, and here I sit in Florida with my stuff.

I really need to do what you are doing, but I usually lie down until the feeling passes over. Someday...

Celia said...

Good to hear from you Wendy. Think of you often. Great story; you made that man's day or week maybe. Are you planning a move then? Big changes back to back. Going through your house can be draining, so many memories, will keep you in my prayers.

Karin said...

Not an easy time to part with life's treasures! I'm glad you made that old gentleman's day! He probably wanted one all his life and now at your slash prices could finally afford it!
May God fill your life with new treasures, the kind that last into eternity!

amelia said...

There has to be more to the saga of the old man. Maybe he was sent to see how kind you were. Very...would be the answer to that.
I hope you get through the clearing out stage, must be awfully hard..

Cheryl said...

Dear Wendy, you did so very well to clear out your home. It must have been such a difficult task.

The story of the old man fascinated me. I note these days that my parents and ma in laws behaviour is often quite weird. Some of the conversations I have leave me baffled. Old age is a pathway that is very much unknown.....

Tku for sharing and take care my friend.

singingfeather said...

You and I are trudging down the same path. Yep I'm still selling and decluttering. I sold a lot on ebay. I didn't have any old men in my life. Have you purchased a house yet? I'm looking around Corunna, On. New houses cheap. Hope you are having an o.k. day.
Widows and Widowers

Maggie May said...

That was a lovely story and you must have found it quite difficult. However, I do believe there is cleansing in clearing things away.
You would laugh at that statement if you could see my messy house!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Mark said...

It is all a process. Hope the old man is enjoying his treasure.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Wendy, People are FUNNY, aren't they???? I'm sure that old guy probably loved the cabinet--and other stuff... By giving all of that stuff away (or selling it cheap)---you have made alot of people very happy.

You are smart to do this... It's a way to get rid of stuff and it's also a way to start a new life --just for you...

God Bless You, Wendy.

Hilary said...

That was such an unusual exchange but I'm glad it worked out for everyone in the end. And I trust you never got the flu!

Grayquill said...

Do you deliver? That was awesome... I really like that old guy. As they say, 'You never get nothing unless you ask for it.'
That was a great word picture of the old man. It sure was nice of you to offer him tea.
You hang in there....

Anonymous said...

Wendy, that must be difficult...sorting, giving away, and all that. The story of the old man intrigued me. But he must be happy he took the trouble to ride uphill on his ancient bicycle, and finally bought it!

Will you be moving soon? Keeping you in my thoughts and my prayers...always!

Rose said...

Oh, what a funny story, Wendy! I can't imagine what he was thinking when he asked you if you delivered:) And I do hope you didn't catch any of those flu germs.

I admire you for getting busy and clearing out so many things. It's a positive way of dealing with grief and a way of making yourself move on with life, though it can't be easy. Have you decided to move, then?

Wendy said...

Hi Beverly,
Oh, one day when it's right for you...No rush.

Hi Celia,
Thanks for your kind words. Yes, I had planned to move before David passed away. This house is too big and I want to move into the suburbs, closer to town and my children.

Hi Karen,
Thank you for your good wishes. I agree - the best treasures life has to offer are totally 100% free!

Hi Amelia,
Yes, it's hard some days for some things, sometimes. Other days it's easier.
Strange you should mention the old man saga. There have been some neat people come to buy the things I'm selling.
Almost worth another post - there was a young man, a teen actually who bought my husband's exercise bicycle for ten or twenty dollars (I forget what I was charging). I was happy to see him take it away. Then his Dad told me the reason he needed it was to practice for a bike-a-thon. This dear young man had had childhood cancer. I was so happy to be giving him David's bicycle! There are more stories, which I might just relate later on.

Wendy said...

Hi Cheryl,
Oh, I'm not done yet, not by a long shot! Just beginning, actually, but it's a gradual process.

Thinking back now, my own dear mother had some strange conversations with me during her last years on earth. And my father reverted to speaking french. He was french by birth and as children we used to make fun of his accent. We only spoke english at home, so my Dad must have been thinking of his youth or days gone by when he reverted back to his mother tongue.

HI Singingfeather,
On ebay? Good for you. I could not be bothered to package things up for sale that way. In fact, I'm practically giving my stuff away. It's easier. Although I did have some artwork appraised and trusted it to an auctioneer to sell. Well, I won't do that again!
No, I haven't bought yet. I've got to sell this one first. And it isn't on the market yet. Good luck with your house hunting.

Hi Maggie,
Oh the time will come for you, when you're ready. Yes, it was good to clear out the basement. The rest of the house will take time.

Hi Mark,
It is and I am processing a lot these years.

Hi Betsy,
I don't know if I'm smart or stupid, selling things really cheap. Whatever. I guess you win some and you lose some. And yes, I've met some really funny characters over the past few months.

Wendy said...

Hi Hilary,
It was actually a much longer telephone conversation, over quite a few days. I've just condensed it. It was quite funny, the way the poor old guy kept asking me if it was still for sale. And he never remembered my name. Would call me lady, or stereo cabinet. LOL!
About the flu, well, I scrubbed the doorknob and everything that man touched! I even took a Clorox wipe and washed the money he'd handed to me! LOL! And no, I did not get the flu.

Hi Grayquill,
Do you deliver? I laughed so hard, I nearly snorted tea through my nose (had I been drinking any). I think I told everybody I spoke to over the next few days, about that one.
And thank you for your kind words.

Hi Kanak,
Oh, he was a character all right. I don't really know when I'll be moving. I hope by next summer. It all depends on when the house sells.

Hi Rose,
I guess in his old age, he must have thought that I might have a truck, or would be coming into the village (where he lives) or who knows what. Hudson is a small town and people do things for one another more easily than in the city. Still, he took me by surprise and I had to force myself not to laugh out loud. And no, I made sure to sterilize the house, so I would not get his flu! LOL!
Yes, I will move on to something smaller. I have very mixed feelings, but do need to take that step.

Q said...

Dear Wendy,
It is good to know you will be closer to your children. They are our treasures as we age.
Getting your house ready for the market is a good goal. Your life with David sounded as if it was a magical time. Knowing his things are being used and cared for is a great gift. You are wise to do this as you are able.
I was so tickled with the older man riding his bike to see the cabinet.
May your December be filled with magical moments.

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

Wendy, I loved your story of the old gentleman. You told it with so much humor and warmth, I am still smiling! I admire you so much with all you have done in such a short time. It is so hard to make decisions when you are sore throughout your soul. I think it was brilliant to price everything at $5. I'm sure there were plenty of deals being made. But the main thing is that you cleared out so much stuff. It is amazing how much we collect without even meaning to. My mother has worked for 6 years clearing out all the stuff from her basement. As hard as it will be to make a move, it is exciting at the same time.

JeanMac said...

You're a step ahead of me, Wendy, and I admire your selling stuff. If only I could convince myself it's just stuff!

Teacher's Pet said...

Wendy....I read your blog with a quietness...wondering as the others did about the man on the bicycle and thinking what a caring heart you have.

hummer said...

I so identify with you. Been there with the cleaning out. I have been slowly putting the memories back together this year. Sometimes it feels like yesterday and then others like a lifetime ago. What an experience with the elderly fellow! He sounded so cute.
Love your poems.

CherylK said...

What an experience! You were kind to offer him the tea. I hope now that you've done all the clearing out that you are feeling better.

Naturegirl said...

Wendy I am sorry that I have not know of your loss before this. I have been fast tracking my way to a new lifechange and have missed all the news from my blogging friends. I wish you peace in your quest to get on with the next journey that faces you.
I was deeply touched by the beautiful poem in your recent post.
It is comforting in a way and I could feel the love in the words that stirred emotion as I read it.You have a kind heart offering this man you deliver!!!Please..I can't believe it!!
I hold you in my prayers.
love and light Anna xo
A big hug too.

Abba's Girl said...

Thinking of you Wendy...

Anonymous said...

Running always seems like such a good idea till you get there and all the thoughts and memories are still there. You are so brave to go through all the stuff. Take care.