As part of our “everything must go” attitude in preparation for our travels, my husband Sam and I had a monumental household sale. It was actually fun to meet so many people in our community that I had never met and would definitely have liked to hang out with but C’est la vie.
On day one of our sale, an adorable boy scout of about 11 came to look things over. He had a million questions for my husband about tools, racecars, tires, memorabilia etc. This kid was so impressive. He was curious, respectful and interesting. You can tell his mom had been down this road before and was very patient as he looked things over and made several small purchases. He left and said he planned to return the next day.
He arrived as promised, gathering many last day, mark-down items impressing us again with his ability to get the best deal possible. This kid is going to go far, we agreed. His Mom, waiting at the top of the driveway was getting a bit impatient, reminding him that it was her Dad’s 91st birthday and they had plans. “Just a few more minutes, Mom” was his reply.
In the corner, he found an old picture Sam had hanging on the garage wall. It was a large portrait photograph of a vintage 1880’s gentleman. You know, one of those whose eyes seem to follow you. He was an interesting looking man with a cookie duster moustache wearing an uncomfortable looking suit. My husband had purchased this photograph at a barn sale in Honeoye Falls, NY, near our home town. He was 18 when he bought it and just thought it was cool and interesting. The portrait hung for 44 years in countless garages in several cities and states moving with my husband everywhere he lived as a kind of good-luck charm. Not knowing who the man in the photo was, he named him Uncle Herbie.
Our boy scout spotted it on the floor and insisted his dad had one just like it in his garage. He called for his Mom, who told him to get in the car it was time to go. “No Mom, you must come see” he pleaded. She finally gave in after several attempts to get him in the car. She rolled her eyes at me as she came down the driveway. As she approached the picture in the garage, her mouth flew open and tears came to her eyes. “That is a picture of my, great-grandfather. His name is Howard Benjamin. It is my father’s grandfather.” She said his family owned a general store in the Buffalo, NY. area and remembered them selling the store and contents. We stared wordlessly at the photograph for a few moments as we all took in the implications of what it took to get to this point. Shocking! Wow what a coincidence.
We, of course, told them they must take the portrait as a birthday gift to her father. We hugged and cried and there were huge smiles all around. As they say, what are the odds? We live in Lake Wylie, South Carolina, an extremely small community.
So, did old Howard Benjamin (Uncle Herbie) realize we were in the process of selling our belongings and this was the last time he would follow my husband to hang in a garage as a good luck charm? Was he tired of his journey and just want to go home to his family? Who knows, but it was definitely God blessing all of our lives. I know I won’t forget this as long as I live.
How strange and beautiful that it was Howard Benjamin’s grandson’s 91st birthday and his great, great-grandson discovered him and insisted we all pay attention.