She’d moved the thing for years, and when it finally teetered to place on its graceful clawed feet she vowed never again. Then she cried. It was the last thing of her Mom’s to move over and the most stressful.
Like an unwelcome but distinguished guest it stood innocently in one corner while the contemporary one stood on the other side as if they were fighting for space; a face off in the dining room. We mourned the loss of our empty wall. It went with nothing else in the room.
Because her parents had moved everywhere she did, the china cabinet came too. It was her Mom’s most prized possession. For years Elaine has had the emotional and physical stress of moving it, and with each move it had become more of a millstone around her neck. She had horrific visions of the thing crashing to the ground like a redwood, the irreplaceable glass in shards on the ground.
After her Mom went into assisted living she thought surely someone in the family would want it. No one did. It went on eBay. One woman actually laughed in her face when she told her the price. And believe me, the price was very fair considering what it was.
This past Monday, we decided to try our hand at antique dealing. We were committed to an all day mission; to finding it, in addition to around 500 assorted glass pieces a home.
The first guy was friendly and talkative, but not very interested in anything else.
When we walked in the second place, there were three women at the counter and all three heads swiveled in our direction. One of them looked at us stony-faced from behind her computer the whole time we were there. The only time she actually cracked a smile and chortled was when Elaine said, “I have been stuck with all this crap all these years now, 25 boxes worth.”
The second woman, the spokeswoman of the group, almost threw up the sign of the cross with her fingers at the mention of glassware. “We only do furniture.” She must have said it 4 times. It was obvious she didn’t know an Occupied Japan Toby from a Matchbox car. Don’t worry if you don’t either.
Ms. “Only do furniture” wasn’t interested in the China Cabinet.
Our next stop took us 15 miles away to downtown. We refused to be discouraged.
We entered through the alley, starting to feel a little like beat-down used car salesmen, but still holding out hope. A man looking like a cross between Garrison Keillor and Norman Bates sat hunched over and peering intently into his computer screen, very loudly crunching on Sun Chips.
I couldn’t even catch her eye. I know my friend, and one of her pet peeves is people eating loud foods in her ear and clacking loudly on the keyboard and this guy was doing both. I wondered how long she would last. It was a test.
We thought maybe he would stop eating as he bent closer to look at the pictures she held out via her phone, but as he paused with one chip poised in the air, he leaned even closer and took the whole thing in his mouth and crunched even louder. I almost laughed out loud.
I saw his eyes flicker with interest as he got up from the chair, wiping Sun Chip dust on his slightly smudgy jeans as they talked. “Well,” he said, “will you be home tonight? I would like to see what you have, and my friend might be interested in the cabinet.”
He came around 5:15 and looked at everything she had for sale, including things which were not. He seemed to be making himself at home but it was educational, he seemed to know his stuff. He then called his buddy and gave him directions to our house.
His buddy pulled up later in a 2012 Super Sport black corvette. After inspection, he said he did in fact, want the China cabinet. He said he had 6 others at home by the same maker. He took a few other things as well, including a gun that had belonged to her Dad. “The safety is faulty,” she told him, but he didn’t seem to mind as he pointed it in my general direction. Elaine told me it might be good if I stepped to the side. I agreed.
He couldn’t hear a thing, and his voice boomed throughout the house. The cats hid under the beds. He regaled us with stories, this good old boy who did two tours in Vietnam and came home with a purple heart, and who just happened to collect antiques. Who would have thought?
The next day he and his buddy backed up a trailer while I herded cats.
He came in laughing and booming out instructions to his friend, who repeated everything he said under his breath in a very raspy voice sounding much like Red Green, that goofy Canadian guy who fixes everything with duct tape. It was like a comedy routine.
I watched from the window with a blow-by-blow description for Elaine who was pacing nervously from room to room. I gasped as they tipped it end over end and slid it into the trailer. And we both let out a breath when we watched the tail lights receding down the street.
It wasn’t just the end of a piece of furniture it was another step closer to freedom for her. One step closer toward her own life again.
Later that night we drank a toast in celebration, but not before we said a prayer of thanks for a God who provides in some very creative and humorous ways. “When I heard that guy crunching those chips,” she said, “It was like God was telling me that He was gonna do this for me, but that I was going to have to jump through a couple of hoops first.”
Before he left our new friend left his business and cell number. When Elaine showed him some projects she has done, he said: “If you need anything for any project, just call me. I have a whole workshop at your disposal.”
We smiled when we remembered how we prayed, asking God for success, for a sale. And I am always amazed at who and how He comes through. A chip crunching antique dealer and a purple hearted vet who said yes to his wife’s request for a house filled with antiques.
God is so good.