The auction was the first I had ever attended; it was the sale of farm implements, furniture, and an assortment of household items that had belonged to the parents of a good friend of mine. As I approached the laneway to the farm, my eyes were drawn to equipment—tractor, bailer, plough, seed drill, elevator, cultivator—that were neatly arranged in the field nearest the road. The marks of time and weather, in the form of rust and sun-baked paint, were upon them all.
Within seconds, my sentimental nature spun a cobweb of sadness over me. An era was ending; but this—my yearning heart cried—just shouldn’t be so. George, who had died years earlier, and Dorothy, whose body had been interred only two days earlier, should still be here. They should be smiling and happy still; perhaps welcoming me at the door in their kind manner, or inviting me to stay for tea and a piece of apple pie. They should be celebrating more anniversaries, birthdays, and Christmases. They should be laughing at my friend and me, as we laughed back at them. They should be rising early and heading early to bed. They should be feeding the pigs, seeding the fields, cutting hay, and tending their garden. They should be joyous, healthy, and happy…forever.
I drove my car up the lane, under the canopy of maple trees, and parked in a field with other vehicles. As I meandered toward the house, more vehicles trickled onto the property. The auction would soon begin; but not before I had time to visit briefly with my friend and his wife. I spotted him near some friends; his wife, with other family members; and I wondered briefly how they were holding up. Surely this could not be easy; considering this day, this task.
An hour later, the auctioneer, climbed onto a wagon heaped with articles. Holding a microphone, he began his call: “Give me ten, ten, fifteen, twenty—whatiwanna give….” People milled around, eyeing articles that stole their interest; they exchanged words, stepped closer, retreated, and purchased. Some treasures, which had initially been featured separately, were soon grouped into lots of other articles that fetched merely a buck or two. After payment was received by a woman seated at a table in a small trailer, the implements previously used by my friend’s parents were passed to different hands. New owners would use them on their farms, in their homes, with their families.
Two hours later, with the auction still underway despite a downpour of rain, I said my goodbyes and walked through the wet grass to my car. I felt lonely as I drove away. How I wished that I could hold back the hands of time; but wisdom, prevailing, decreed that I must view the auction through the eyes of acceptance. The world and life—birth and death, beginnings and endings—were unfolding just fine. To resist any of it made as much sense as attempting to dam a cascading waterfall. Each shining droplet was moving and flowing and changing just as it should: All was well…all was well…all was well.