A better-than-expected deal

Belinda Ouellette, Special to The County
2 years ago

I will blame it on the cream-colored sneakers, for without warning, I began to see all of my yard sale merchandise in a different light. 

Many of the sale items were coated with a memory or an era, a prayer, a tear, a love, a heartbreak, a lesson learned. It is absolute truth that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Those sneakers had been purchased on sale, and I guess that because of the color, they were not in great demand. I wore them exclusively for well over a year, as they were comfortable and stable and rather cute. I held them for a moment before I placed a $2 sticker on the sole (which was in relatively great shape) and placed them on the carousel shoe tree with other somewhat abandoned footwear. 

Throughout the two days we participated in the sale, I watched many of my former possessions being carried off by a pleased patron, peeking out at me from under an arm or an already full canvas tote. Everything was flowing along quite smoothly and the dollar bills were piling up rather quickly in the cash box. The weather was cooperating and the long-awaited event was nearing perfection — until I noticed those two price tags attached to two never-before-worn sweaters, both of them Christmas gifts that had somehow gone unnoticed, until now.

A lovely young lady held the garments tightly against her side, a look of astonishment etched upon her face. She walked up to an older lady, her mother, I believe, and held the sweaters at arm’s length, shaking them softly from side to side. I leaned forward, clearing my throat as I struggled for words. I had to reclaim the sweaters. They were both gifts from my mother, given to me well over 20 years ago. They had survived years of seclusion, unacknowledged and folded away neatly. Somehow, the sweaters had been mistakenly included with other clothes, now on sale for $1 each. I could not let the sweaters go – not for any price. I rose to my feet, clearing my throat softly as I pulled my face mask out of my jacket pocket and walked slowly toward the lady, still unsure of just what to say. She turned toward me and all I could see was her warm, delighted smile. 

“Excuse me, miss,” I stammered. My voice was barely audible, as I stood there before her. I reached out, pointing at the sweaters she held in her arms. “These two items are actually new. They were gifts to me from my mom.”

“They are so pretty,” she said. “Do you mind if I try them on?” 

There I stood, the orchestrator of the yard sale, surrounded by things I no longer had room or need for. How long had it been since I saw those two sweaters? Nearly two decades, How often did I wear them? Not once. Would I miraculously begin wearing these sweaters after today? No. “Of course you may try them on,” I said. 

Well, my friends, you know the rest of the story. The young lady handed me $2 for the sweaters, one of which she could not wait to wear and did so proudly as she slid into her car and drove off, waving at me and flashing that smile. I stood there for a few moments, thinking of my mother and the many gifts she had given me throughout my life. I wear her mother’s ring on a silver chain. I have her Bible and her hope chest, filled with precious items from my childhood. In a pillowcase, I have the letters my father wrote to her when he was a soldier in the Army, stationed in Korea and Japan for two years during the Korean conflict. 

My sister, Lisa, displays her china cabinet filled with priceless dishes and other glassware that my mom collected throughout her life. However, her love, generosity and sweet spirit were the most important gifts she showered upon us, and for that reason and many others, I happily sold the two “new” sweaters for $1 each without further hesitation. It may just be the greatest deal I have ever made.

Northern Yarns is all about life lessons. Every day is filled with new discoveries and additional wisdom. Despite our chronological age, we continue to grow. I appreciate the opportunity to share my journey with each of you. Please be kind to yourself and each other and please stay safe.

Belinda Ouellette lives in Caribou with her Goldendoodle, Barney.  You may email her at belindaouellette9@gmail.com.