When Isabelle Lost Her Head

To say that I was utterly speechless for at least five minutes is no exaggeration. Just seeing her lovely head flat out on the pavement, while her torso balanced on the dolly was devastating. Of course, it wasn’t her fault, and my dear husband was doing his best, but honestly, I felt a huge sense of defeat.

I had coveted “Isabelle” for years. Yes – no shame here – I coveted her, along with the two antique garden benches that flanked her in the yard up the street. When the elderly resident moved on to a nursing home, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen with the house, and, more particularly, with Isabelle. She was about two feet high and bore the innocent air of a wee French girl. Passing her on my daily walks for at least five years, I knew that if there were an estate sale, I would do everything in my power to claim her, to bring her to my own backyard where she would help me cultivate the old-world style I longed to create. 

I did what I had to do…

“Oh, hi. I live two doors down and couldn’t help but notice all of the activity. House going on the market?”

“Well, yes, but we’re actually here to tag everything for the sale.”

I could barely contain myself.

“Oh, when is that?”

“Next weekend.”

“I’ll be there.”

The next Saturday, I set out extra early on that chilly morning to claim Isabelle and the benches. While the sign said the doors would open at eight, and to “Please form a line,” I couldn’t risk missing out on the prize. Trying not to be too obnoxious, I lingered by the house – long before eight. Sure enough, the same guy who told me about the sale appeared.

“Oh hi. What a great day for the sale. Um, I’m the lady who lives two doors down, and I am REALLY interested in that statue and those two benches. What do you want for them?”

I knew this could go one of two ways: he’d either think I was an annoying, pushy thing and suggest that I start the line, OR, he’d be happy to sell off three “big” items, lickety-split. It was the latter!

Honestly, I don’t typically act like this. Well, only when covetousness takes over. I didn’t care about haggling much; a fair price was all I was after. After the gentleman consulted with the boss lady, the deal was sealed!

I was giddy as I told my husband about what I’d just done. The only challenge was getting these heavy pieces home. Once that plan was finally established, Dean loaded Isabelle onto the dolly to relocate her to her new home amongst the early spring blooms in our backyard. 

And, that’s when it happened: just as he was opening the gate, Isabelle demonstrated her feisty side by toppling from that temporary perch. Dean was crestfallen. I took a deep breath, held back my tip-of-the-tongue words and considered the situation. What now? Could we salvage her? And would I still love her, flawed as she was?

Thanks to my lovely man, in a matter of days, Isabelle regained her lovely head while still bearing the unmistakable evidence of her injury. Yes, we salvaged her and yes, I loved her.

I visit Isabelle daily, while filling the bird feeder and taking in the first light of morning. I sometimes think that I love her more for her imperfection because she silently reminds me of how imperfection is the true nature of things – of you, of me, of the things we long for and those we covet. Everything has its time, and everything changes. Even our lovely Isabelle. I don’t know where she will land once I have moved on, but what I do know is that, like us, she has a story.


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