The other day my mom dragged me out of bed to go yardsaling with her. We drove along the hot Florida streets and finally stopped at a home that was having an estate sale. The couple that had lived there had passed away a week earlier. I am not a fan of estate sales, as it is kind of creepy walking through someone’s house with all their dated furniture, wondering what kind of people they were.
I walked around smelling the musty smell of the aging home and curiously glancing at all the possessions. Nothing had been touched since the couple had passed away. It was almost disturbing, seeing the finger prints in the dust on a woman’s dresser. There was make up in it’s case by the mirror. I found myself picturing a little old lady powdering her face that morning, perhaps perfecting her lipstick. Her multiple perfumes lay open in the bathroom. I breathed them in, smelling the flowery scents.
I moved into the bedroom. An expensive fur coat lay on the bed, along with high heels on the floor. This woman had been very stylish, even in her old age. I walked over to the closest, where all her clothes hung. Perfectly adjusted as if she just finished hanging them up moments ago. I could picture her stroking each outfit, remembering the times she wore it. The beautiful memories intertwined with each piece.
My eyes moved toward her wall where pictures of her were in a golden frame. The main picture was from long ago, when she had been about my age, probably no older than 19. She was dressed in a wedding dress although it wasn’t white, her hair in beautiful curls. Her new husband was tall and handsome. Though many in old photos didn’t tend to smile, I could see the girl had a grin of her face, mischievous as they come.
Surrounding that picture were others, pictures of her as she aged. Pictures of her children, her kissing her husband, her in her 50s at the beach. The pictures continued until they painted a picture for me, a story where I knew she had been happy. A story that told me she had stayed married and been in love until the day she died, and that she had many grandbabies and lots of laughing and happiness. I am sure her life had contained it’s share of heartache, but from what I saw, she had made it full and bright.
A feeling of bittersweet sadness washed over me. This girl was just like me, probably so young and excited to be married. Her clothes all remained here untouched, drenched in memories of years gone by. An urge to meet her overwhelmed me. I wish I had known her, talked with her, seen her embrace life like her photos say she did. I looked through her closet and found a white dress. It was covered with multi colored designs and was obviously my size. There was a picture above the closet and I could see her dancing with her husband in this very same dress. I couldn’t resist.
For four quarters I walked out of that house with memories in my hand. I held a dress that a girl had owned. A girl just like me had grown up, cried, fallen in love, married, held children, laughed, danced, and passed on.
Many told me that it was a little disturbing to buy an old dress from a dead woman’s home. I don’t care how strange it is. I wanted to be apart of her life somehow. Her life ended, as mine will one day, but she was free and happy and beautiful. I want people to know, I want anyone to know. I am desperate to keep her story alive. I know if I had been her friend, I would have thought her beautiful. And through generations passed, I will wear that dress. I will remember her.
Hey, friend! I'm Chelsie!
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