Friday, August 1, 2008

It's a Wonderful Life

Well, our heads are still reeling from Saturday's yard sale. I haven't even been able to sit down and write about it because I'm still processing everything that happened!

I mentioned last week that we had lots of donations of items coming in. Well, toward the end of the week it all kind of exploded and we just had a steady stream of people, friends and strangers alike, dropping off all kinds of STUFF. Clothes, toys, books, tennis rackets, records, baby gear (lots of baby gear!), furniture, a small refrigerator, "vintage" computers... the list goes on and on. Our backyard was FULL (and we have a pretty big backyard!) It was all great for a while, and then I must admit to a moment on Friday afternoon when I was thinking, "holy crap, what are we going to do with all this??" Still, it kept on coming. Our friends Jessi, Dianne and Doug arrived late Friday afternoon to help sort and organize, and I give them a lot of credit (and my eternal gratitude) for the fact that they did NOT take one look and flee! Honestly, it was that overwhelming. Nobody really admitted it to anyone else at the time, but we did learn later that everyone had a similar freak-out moment...

Anyhow, we dug in and spent Friday evening, til it got dark, organizing into piles and strategizing how to set things up on Saturday for maximum sales potential. I didn't sleep much Friday night and I got up early to take these pictures, entitled "Dawn on the day of the Sale".

Jessi, bless her heart, showed up at 6:45 am and Lisa arrived shortly after. We started moving stuff out, and by 8 or so we had a good crew of friends and samaritans helping. That's also about the time the early bird shoppers began showing up in earnest.

From that point on, all the carefully-laid plans for managing things sort of went out the door, because we were simultaneously setting up and selling in full swing. So it turned out to be a very fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of thing. By 9 am it was really crowded, and by 9:30 you could barely walk around the front yards. For about 3 straight hours, it was jam packed; traffic was backed up turning onto our street, and people were double parked on both sides. It was a total madhouse!

Our musician friends arrived and started playing, and we got the lemonade stand going. (Special thanks to Doug for taking charge and making it happen!) Dianne's dad stood in our kitchen for about two hours straight, making batch after batch of lemonade, and Doug would come in with a big empty pitcher, fill it up, and run back out, saying "We can't keep it coming fast enough!" every time.

I went out to take pictures, and walked across the street to get a shot of the whole scene, and I had this moment of seeing what was happening, and feeling total awe and amazement at the sight before me. What began as a plan to pull a few families together for a group sale had grown - exploded, actually - into something far, far bigger than any of us could have imagined, or hoped for. It truly took on a life of its own, and to stand there, looking at all of this, and thinking that this was for Mielle, and for us... it was very overwhelming.

Our lovely neighbor Phyllis, who let us spread out into her yard for the sale, told me on the phone the next day, "I just looked at it and thought, Well, this is a Miracle! I've never seen anything like it!" (And Phyllis is 90 years old, so she has seen a lot! ; )

Something I wasn't expecting was to actually connect with others who are touched in some way by JDM, or other autoimmune diseases. We'd had a great write-up about Mielle, Kendyl and JDM in the local paper the day before the sale, so there were several people who sought us out over the course of the day to tell us their own stories or offer words of experience and advice. Others just wanted to connect in person or to pass on a donation. The compassion we experienced from these folks was really moving, and I cried about 5 different times over the course of the day. Honestly, it was one of those things that really renews your faith in the essential goodness of people.

So, fast forward to the end of the day... believe it or not, MOST of the stuff had sold and the amount left over was fairly manageable. We made a game plan for dispensing with it, our wonderful friends (who had arrived early in the morning and braved the chaos in the hot sun all day) helped pack everything up, and we collapsed.

Later on, we tallied up the money and found that over $4500 had been raised.

That is AMAZING!!

We never, ever in a million years expected that!

So, now we can head to Chicago with a little less worry. Our plane tickets are paid for and we can put a serious dent in whatever bills we accrue there. And we'll be making a fat donation to Cure JM as well.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again (and again, and again)... thank you, thank you, thank you.

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