There was heart break too. I will never forget the 85 year old woman who sat in the showroom and told me how difficult it was to care for her 86 year old husband who had just died. “That’s what I‘ve been through”, she said as she picked out a new end table for her living room because she said “life goes on”.
“We have 287 feet of waterfront”, a customer told me as she searched for a chair for her yacht that was going on the market because she was getting a divorce, “you think he would be happy with that. Most people only have 100 feet if they’re lucky and he’s leaving me.”
There was the demure woman who was moving to a new house because her husband of more than 40 years was divorcing her. “I thought she was my best friend,” the woman said as she told me her newly widowed friend had captured the heart of her long time husband who was leaving her to be with her best friend. “I invited her on vacation with us to cheer her up,” she said. “I never thought she was going to take my husband”.
Sometimes customers came in to hang out and say hello. My father offered everyone coffee and donuts. We got fresh flowers and zucchini in return. Some customers paid for furniture using money earned from opening scallops or selling vegetables on their farm stands. Others used platinum credit cards and fancy checks.
People asked about my father for years after he died at the relatively early age of 74 in January 1986.
My brother posted a small handwritten note on the front door that read “Closed, Death in the Family.” The next day we opened our doors for business. My mother sat in a rocking chair in her store looking sad as she presided over a business that was part of her life’s work without her husband of 39 years. People came up to me on the street for weeks to express their condolences.
My mother retired in 1995 and passed away in June of 2005. People still remember her. Your mother sold me this, is something I hear to this day when I walk into homes all over town. Your father was a great guy is the other refrain that follows me around.
The store is still there presided over by my mother’s hard working first born son. I am no longer a part of it. One day I drove past the building and saw a sign in the window created by a child. “Goldin Furniture is the best furniture store” the sign proclaimed in crayon letters of many colors.
I kept driving hoping that someone was buying a sofa.
Customers used to ask me when the show started as they entered the showroom and got a view of the stage from the rear of the store. I would tell them it never ended. As they say on the sidewalk in front of a theater when the audience exits and is asked for their opinion, “I laughed, I cried, it changed my life”. It was a great show. I saw the world while I was selling a sofa.
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