Last weekend, I “met” my great-grandparents for the first time – I went to the cemetery where they are buried and my Dad and my Aunt reminisced about them, and showed me where they lived (nice house, still well kept). I wondered to myself why it has taken me 39 years to be interested in my heritage to this degree. My great-grandmother was only 36 when she died, and apparently had been sick for some time (and in terrible pain) before dying. She was a delicately beautiful woman, with a gentle smile. So sad. I then saw a mystery stone with no writing on it next to her. I contacted the cemetery to find out about it and they couldn’t tell me anything about it (they didn’t know) – was it an infant, or just a foundation that that my great grandfather put there in hopes his children would join them? I plan to find out eventually one way or another.
The town they lived and died in is a small town, kind of odd – one that people don’t often travel to. There is a diner in the middle of the town – in fact, I set my GPS to “town center” and it led me right to the diner. As I was driving to it, I noticed a large warehouse type building with open doors and a sign that said, in big crudely drawn letters, SALE – then under that, YARD. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for thrift shops and the like, so I considered stopping on my way out of town if it was still open. I work at a preschool and it needs toys – especially for my son’s room – the 2.5 year olds – so any chance I get to find toys for a song, I take it.
We had a nice lunch and tour and then we were all departing for our various destinations (I had a 4 hour drive) and my children were already beginning to argue (we had traveled less than a mile) when I saw the SALE – YARD was still open. There were no items in the yard – they were all inside. So yard was a strange word to be on the sign, but once I met the guy that owned it, it became clear to me that he wasn’t dealing with a full deck.
We walked in, and immediately saw toys galore. The kids thought it was Disneyland – and there was a big box that said, “FREE”, full of toys, and much to my son’s delight, many matchbox cars were inside. While they were looking and rejoicing, I wandered a few feet away and began looking at other stuff. Things were so cheap it was ridiculous – like I found an antique camera for 50 cents! I get a kind of buzz when I find places like this, so I was playing Marco Polo with my kids as I kept perusing. Then, comes the WEIRDO. He invades my personal space and I know right away he is, shall I say, intellectually impaired? It is hard to put it into words – but I’ll paint a picture for you – he was big and round, dirty, looked like the mechanic from Dukes of Hazard – I can’t remember his name now – Cooter or something. He had an underbite, had a camo hat on and was about 5 foot 4. What he lacked in height he made up for in girth – he was probably close to 325 pounds or so, and he was right in my face.
“I was looking at the TVs, didn’t see you here.”
“Yeah, the TVs all work.”
“Well, that’s good.” (I am feeling a bit uncomfortable but I can hear/see my kids and I will leave if he touches me – probably after punching him in the nose – he is 3 inches away from me at all times).
“You like toys?”
“I teach preschool, and I have two little kids, so, yeah, I guess.”
“Sometimes people just give me stuff – other times I get it real cheap. Look at this TV – free for me – it works!” (There’s a $25 price tag on said TV).
“Wow, that’s great!”
Everywhere I go, he’s right there, I keep calling my kids, playing Marco Polo, and moving fast – he’s right there, 3 inches away, talking about everything I touch. I size him up – up until this point I had not made eye contact, and I still don’t, but I notice him pulling up his pants, as he had on sweatpants and they had long ago given up their elastic properties. Then my daughter comes and says she has to go to the bathroom. I’m like, you’ve got to be kidding. He tells me that it is there where the “No Dumping” sign is. I think he wanted me to laugh. I was not in the laughing mood. I take her in there and it is scary in there – like a bad movie – meanwhile my son won’t come in with us although I am in a panic mode calling him but trying not to let on so the weirdo doesn’t get weirder…my heart beating fast, thinking I can’t leave my little girl alone in this bathroom to go get my little boy…I don’t know where the Sale Yard Serial Killer is…
Then, I hear…MY DAD. My hero – my 6 foot 2 father – who was concerned that I hadn’t gotten on the highway, and turned around to look for me – was with my son in the toy room. “He’s right here, I’m with him.” The relief I felt was immense. When we emerged from the bathroom, the weirdo was seated at his desk, and he left me alone from then on. I was able to look around one last time without my fight or flight feelings – joking with my Dad and continuing the Marco Polo with my kids but not so panicked…
I will always need my Dad, my hero, no matter how old I get, and that’s why he needs to take care of himself and make it for the long haul. He’s always had a sixth sense about when I need him the most. My Dad’s health is not great, and he struggles to take care of himself the way he should. I sometimes think I shouldn’t need my parents as much as I do at this age, but I do and the thought of them passing away is one I can’t fathom.
In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have stayed at the Sale-Yard – once I met the owner I should have taken my kids and left – but I was pretty sure I could beat him up, and that’s why I stayed. You can judge me if you want, people enjoy doing so, but the fact is I left there with a trunk full of toys for needy kids for $10 and also got an antique camera and some other cool things for my house. If you saw the smiles on the faces of the recipients of the toys I brought back to Ohio with me, you’d understand, I think.