Raised in an Antique Shop
Death is never an easy subject to talk about. That sentence sounds weird coming from me. I know it, you know it, but we are getting to the reality of it here in a minute. I mean, real death, not the fantastical and loopy deaths of fiction. There are many times when the world around us gets a bit too real and that is the moment when we need those fantastical deaths in fiction among other oddities to help us cope with the world around us. Or something…
A friend of our family passed away over the summer. My family has known her family for going on close to 40 years now, and to add to that we found that their family was with ours at the founding of Schenectady New York. If you don’t know this, it is a bit of family trivia that my mother’s family came to this country as indentured servants in order to claim land in the new world. To this day there is a Bradt House in Schenectady (though it is no longer owned by the Bradts. Instead the last I heard it is in the hands of the Skammerhorns).
Which is one of the interesting things about how our two families are connected. I am from the Bradt line and our friends are from the Skammerhorns. There were family ties in older generations as well in all this but all this history isn’t quite the point of what I am digging into right now. This is more just some general information to pass some time and avoid getting into the thoughts on real death and the effect it has on life and what not.
Let’s come back a bit closer to the present and the thoughts from earlier this week and what brought on this bit of nostalgia. Like I said we lost a friend over the summer. As always with the end of a life we are left with all the chaos that is left behind as well. Thankfully we have nothing to do with that part of it. The survivors of the immediate family (her kids) have that burden to bear.
Which brings us to earlier this week. They had an estate auction in order to clear out all the things that they couldn’t take with them. Granted we are talking about adult children with their own lives and their own things. Eventually you reach a point in life when you have that separation from your parents so you don’t have the space for all the things your parents collected over the years. At least that is my plan. I have my own stuff, anything I might have wanted from my parents house has already found its way into my stuff. You know what I’m saying here, right?
Anyway, my mother and I had gone to the auction. For me it was an opportunity to walk through the house again. I hadn’t been in the house for roughly 30 years. Your perspective changes a bit in that amount of time. But you never know what ghosts might stir up when you confront them.
This was where it got a bit strange for me. See, my mother and her friend shared some similar predilections. They both collect dolls and some antiques. When I say dolls I am not talking about something as mundane as a mass produced thing you can pick up in any department store today. No, I am referring to Victorian era dolls made of cloth, wood, or ceramic. Many of them can be worth hundreds of dollars or more to the right collector and all that.
I spent a few minutes wandering around outside. Winter had returned to Michigan this week. There was so much stuff that they needed to have a couple different auctions going on at the same time, one inside and one outside. Tables lined the front yard and odds and ends lined the side yard, easy enough to walk through and get a decent look at everything. I mean the place was set to sell.
As I wandered through the stuff I realized the commonality between the houses, this one and my parent’s home. Both were/ are filled with so much stuff from bygone times. This was the moment when the thought hit me that I had grown up in an antique shop. It’s a crazy thought but when you are surrounded by so much history as a child you don’t really think about it. Hell, you may never really think about it till you encounter a moment like this. A person’s life is spread out for people to examine and explore and set a price on. All this stuff that accumulated through 70 or 80 years of life. In the end they are really nothing more than memories that carry a dollar value.
So I spent some time inside the house. And the first thought that came to me as how much the house had shrunk. Have you ever felt that? You leave your childhood home and start your own life, but when you return the place is no longer big enough for you. They had added a room over the years I had been away from the house. This room was different in feel and space to the rest of the house that I had know. The space was bigger, roomier, in its own way it was an alien landscape that felt a bit strange to me.
I am sure you know that tired, clichéd saying that you can never go home again. It is never the same when your mind has expanded from the life you have built for yourself. I hadn’t thought that about my own parent’s home in a long time. They still live there (been there almost as long as I have been in this world). The furniture changes from time to time, and they have taken over so you might never tell that they raised a family there, but it remains a bit of the home I knew growing up. The antiques still fill every nook and cranny. And there have been new memories built there with my own kids coming and going to gramma’s house. It feels smaller than what it felt growing up.
Oddly, I still know where to find things when I look for them at my parent’s house. I can never find anything in my own home. Funny when you consider I have been living my own life away from the homes of my youth longer than I spent in those homes growing up. There comes a time in our life when the things you once knew and understood have fallen into the further reaches of time and the things you will learn are much closer than you ever thought they would be. Of course, I may have no idea what it is I am saying right now.
Side note: The lawn Jarts are here solely because it is so rare to see an intact set anymore and I wanted to share. Didn’t add them to my collection of deathly games but it is just enough of an odd thing to see it makes for a fun addition.
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