An impatient crowd of nearly 200 diehard bargain hunters shoved their way into the huge living room of the old Withers homestead. The sweltering ninety-degree temperature didn't deter a single one, all in pursuit of the estate-sale find of the summer.
The lady conducting the sale, a long-time acquaintance, nodded as we watched the early-morning scavengers. "How's this for bedlam?" she chuckled.
I smiled in agreement. "I shouldn't even be here. I have to be at the airport in less than an hour," I admitted to her. "But when I was a teenager, sold cosmetics in this neighborhood. And Hillary Withers was my favorite customer. "
??Then run and check out the attic,?? she suggested. "There are plenty of old cosmetics up there.??
Quickly, I squeezed through the ever-growing throng and climbed the stairs to the third floor. The attic was deserted except for a petite, elderly woman presiding over several tables loaded with yellowed bags of all sizes.
"What brings you all the way up here?" she asked, as she popped the stopper out of a perfume bottle. "There's nothing up here except old Avon, Tupperware and Fuller Brush products.??
I drew in a long, cautious breath. The unmistakable fragrance of?? Here??s My Heart" perfume transported me back nearly twenty years.
"Why, this is my own handwriting!" I exclaimed, as my eyes fell upon an invoice stapled to one of the bags. The untouched sack held more than a hundred dollars' worth of creams and colognes ?? my very first sale to Mrs. Withers.
On that long-ago June day, I??d canvassed the wide, tree-lined avenue for nearly four hours, but not one lady of the house had invited me indoors. Instead, several had slammed their doors in my face. As I rang the bell at the last house, braced myself for the now-familiar rejection.
"Hello, ma'am, I'm your new Avon representative," I stammered, when the carved-oak door swung open. "I have some great products I'd like to show you.?? When my eyes fi??nally found the courage to face the lady in the doorway, realized it was Mrs. Withers, the bubbly, matronly soprano in our church choir. I'd admired her lovely dresses and hats, dreaming that someday I'd wear stylish clothes, too.
Just two months before, when I'd traveled to a distant city to have brain surgery, Mrs. Withers had showered me with the most beautiful cards. Once she'd even tucked in a Scripture verse: ??I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.?? I'd carried it in my red vinyl wallet.