November 16| Cher Finver


I like to hit up estate sales late. After a long day of nickel and diming potential customers, most folks basically give their stuff away.  I grab my bike, swing my empty backpack over my shoulder, and yell to my grandma that I will be back in less than an hour. Today has promise by the detailed ad in the newspaper.

I am on the hunt for a particular type of knickknack, trinket, or as my grandma calls them, tchotchkes. The “old person” smell at today’s estate is strong yet all too familiar. I browse the merchandise. My eyes widen. Yes! Score!

“How much for that?” The older man doesn’t hear me, so I ask again, this time in a louder register.

“For you, $3.00.” Leaning up against a banister, he reminds me a bit of John Wayne, but I am not intimated.

“The paper does say this is the last day of your estate sale. How about 50 cents?”


I know Grandma’s best aide, Joyce, has let herself in when I hear singing coming from the kitchen. Grandma’s still parked where I left her, in front of the TV, watching reruns of Wheel of Fortune.

“Joey, my sweet boy! It’s been a while.” Joyce is adding too much milk and butter to the mashed potatoes. I also liked to be called “Joe” these days, but I don’t say anything.

“Hi ya, Joyce.” She pats me on the head as she brings a dinner plate to my grandma and then heads into the other room to clean.

“P!” Grandma yells at the old tube television.

“Grandma, Pat and Vanna can’t hear you.” I sit down, and her eyes widen as I open my backpack.

“Joey! Is this another one?!” Grandma is again distracted by the TV. “S!”

I guide my latest find into her palm as her tears start to swell.

“Oh, he is my favorite.”

Grandma does her best to inspect the squirrel figurine riding an acorn. He is also wearing goggles and a scarf—funny little guy. I make room for this newest edition on the shelf.

“Grandpa sends his love.”

She smiles at me and dives into her mashed potatoes.

As a boy, my grandpa loved to feed squirrels nuts. By the time he met my grandmother fifty-something years ago, he even had a squirrel for a pet. He taught it to walk with a leash on and everything! I search for these tchotchkes as they are the only way Grandma will stop asking for her love as her dementia worsens.

Sadly, I know soon enough that I will have my own estate sale, attempting to rid myself of a lifetime of my grandparent’s possessions. Well, most of them anyway. Grandma’s new favorite tchotchke? I promise to cherish it long after she is gone.