Remodeling and modernizing the ancient house, the heirs to the estate were eager to rid the old place of the former inhabitant’s belongings. The old man had lived in the family homestead for eighty years. Then he died, leaving behind a lifetime collection of the things that defined him.
By the time I got there, several hours after the sale had begun, there was no hint of personality. Just a collection of stuff. All neatly organized by subject matter. All of the pots, pans, dishes and glassware were neatly displayed in the kitchen. Large furniture remained where he had left it. But not how he left it. No sign of use. No indication of the favorite chair in the den. Coffee mugs piled in a box. No sense that these had held a warm drink on a cold winter’s night. Why did he have this one? Where did he get that one?
He’d been in the military. And played golf. At least he had a set of golf clubs. No sign of his abilities. Or where he played. His military uniforms were hung on hangers, displayed on a rack with a variety of other clothing. Nothing to say the man had been a hero.
There were no photographs.
Nothing filled the air. There were no scents. Perhaps he was a smoker and the home was fumigated. Did he ever cook? Cooking smells sometimes linger, trapped in the curtains or carpets throughout the house. Not here.
To him, this was home. Perhaps there had been smells. And photographs. And the sound of laughter. A lifetime of memories had filled the home. Now it was just an uninhabited building filled with a variety of material goods, sold off to the highest bidder.
Perhaps the family had kept the photos and their favorite memories of the old man. Can’t say for sure. The evidence of remodeling was everywhere. Hurry. They will fill the house with their possessions and it’s walls and rafters will capture their memories. And hold them long after the next owners do their own remodeling.
Our things define us in life. Our life defines us in death.
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