Our church had a garage sale to help renovate a building we’d moved into. This was at least a decade ago. Of course the sale wasn’t in a garage. It was in what would be the sanctuary once renovations were complete. There were big tables covered with stuff and stuff was piled against the walls and more stuff was in back rooms.
I went Saturday to get my vase. Or it would be my vase as soon as I paid for it. It had held a bouquet of iris in front of the pulpit a few weeks earlier and I instantly wanted it — square, white glazed ceramic, 10 inches tall, gracefully narrowing at the top and decorated with a pink and lavender flower. I have iris and this vase was perfect for them.
As soon as church was over, I watched to see who picked up the bouquet and accosted her. “I want that vase!” I told her.
She laughed, said she got it at a garage sale and walked right out the door with it. Every time I saw her, I reminded her how much I loved that vase. So when it came time for the church sale, she emailed me that she was donating the vase and she’d save it for me.
She had it carefully wrapped and safe in a corner. “How much?” I asked.
“I don’t know … maybe $5,” she said.
“I’ll pay $20,” I said and thanked her profusely for saving it for me.
I looked over the other stuff and found a plastic strainer for 35 cents and one small flute glass for 50 cents.
Someone told me my son had brought in a keyboard. A big man, maybe a farmer, was looking at it, marked $50.
“Does it work?” he asked. The man helping him didn’t know. Then he saw me. “Hey, she might know,” he said. I didn’t. I didn’t even know my son had a keyboard.
They couldn’t find a cord to plug it in. The man offered $25 and the helper hesitated. Then there was an announcement that everything was half-price, making the keyboard only $25. The prospective buyer offered $20.
He and I had a long conversation about pianos. He and his wife had sold an expensive piano for a small amount. I told him about an article I’d read about old pianos being thrown away in city dumps. Nobody wants old pianos any more. They can’t be given away so they’re shoved off trucks, crushed with sledgehammers, burned for firewood. That makes me sad and the man thought it was sad too. We lamented a society that has no room for pianos.
Then the person who talked to my son when he brought the keyboard in said, yes, he said it worked. The man said he’d take it for the $25.
I gathered up my small purchases and the vase and headed for the cashier. As I took out my billfold, the piano man was just behind me and said, “I’ll pay for her stuff too.”
I was taken aback and said, “No, no, you don’t need to do that.”
He said, “Yes, I want to pay for hers too.” It came to $20 for the vase and about a dollar’s worth of junk.
I went home lighthearted and smiling, thinking good thoughts about good-hearted people — my good friend who donated her vase to the sale so I could buy it and the generous stranger who loved pianos too.
Mary McClure lives in Lawton and writes a weekly column for The Lawton Constitution.