For a brief period of time, I owned my own home, but there came a point when I could not afford the expenses alone anymore and I had to let it go. One of the kids had gone off to college and moved out of state and I was in a transitional period with the Significant Other (the SO), so it was just me and the younger child rattling around a now too big space that needed to be heated and maintained. This dawning, sad acknowledgement arrived just as the housing market had reached its peak and was teetering on the brink before tipping downward. This timing did not help me though, because the house required some cleaning out, basic repairs and sprucing up before it could be listed, and by the time this occurred, the market was already on the downslide.
The house was one of the nicer ones in the neighborhood – it had some character to it and was not a cookie cutter copy of every other. It was an older home and had been built with some attention and care. It was in an excellent school district, had updated systems, lots of sunlight, hardwood floors, renovated bathrooms, an attached garage, porches and a patio, and sat on a somewhat private piece of property, which I had passionately planted with an abundance of perennials that would continually bloom all season. Sitting in the back garden was a peaceful Buddha that you could see out the kitchen window while you did the dishes. A lot of love and creativity had been poured into that house, and it showed. It seemed like anybody who saw it would want to live and raise children there. At least I thought so. I guess we all think that about our homes.
I signed on with a seasoned, local realtor who posted the place in all the appropriate venues and locations, held the open house and was in regular contact with me to provide updates and encouraging words. I even painted the color of my periwinkle front door (which I thought was extremely cool looking) to a bland ecru to attract the mainstream. However, interest was little and nothing moved. I dropped the price and still nobody wanted to see my house. The market kept slipping and it appeared I might have to stay and hold on to the place, which was a little scary, not only financially but because once I made the decision to give it up I had psyched myself into an entire mindset focused on leaving, and I wasn’t able to backtrack in my head.
When the contract with the realtor ran out, I decided to give it a shot at listing the house myself (which was rather daunting of me if I must say, considering I knew absolutely zip of such business). It was at that point that one of my sisters gave me a little talisman to help insure that my house would be sold quickly. This lucky piece that would deliver such results was a small, plastic statuette of Saint Joseph, which came with explicit instructions to bury him head-down and facing in a certain direction on the property near the entrance to the house. My sister is a superstitious sort and I laughed at her, but I also took her up on it…which I guess says something about me. I mean, it couldn’t hurt, right?
Now, this alone could segue into a whole other discussion on belief systems. Touching ever so lightly on this highly debatable topic, I will share that over the years I had vehemently abandoned my early Catholic exposure, did a stint at Atheism which became Agnosticism when I just wasn’t so sure anymore, absorbed plenty of Jewish culture and then adopted a little Hindu color laced with Buddhist tenets, all which has enabled me to come to my own comfort regarding the way I see and accept The Universe. I think something is out there. I think we are part of a larger piece. I think it’s all connected somehow. That is as deep as I am going to get into it here.
My mother was raised Catholic and had Faith (with a capital F), thus we were raised hearing, among other things, that Saint Francis watched over the animals and if you lost something you prayed to Saint Anthony to help you find it. I hadn’t been aware that Saint Joseph had any juice, at least not beyond being the purveyor of baby aspirin, but at my sister’s urging I followed the directions and planted Saint Joe on his head in the lily patch by the front door before the first snowfall of the winter.
Then I put an ad in the town newspaper and in our local Pennysaver. Now, I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the Pennysaver, which is a free, printed digest of advertisements. Some pack a little more punch than others, but our regional Pennysaver was a pathetically slim volume filled mostly with used pickup trucks and backhoes for sale, weekly horoscopes, ads for how you can “Choose Your Own Hours and Make Money at Home”, a pet page that is almost all cats in need of adoption -with the occasional missing ferret, and Novenas to St. Jude, the patron of Lost Causes. There is a real estate section, but it is only a couple of pages and it is mostly rentals. However, in the distant past I had actually found a couple of places to rent and had sold some puppies through the Pennysaver, and now I had St. Joe on my team, so I went for it.
From what I could find, there are many interpretations of how this Saint Joseph home selling practice came about and you can do your own search if you are interested. I think in a modern sense that this ritual serves as a vehicle for creative visualization, which can sometimes lead to manifestation, which is not a bad thing. My Saint Joe was a very plain little statue, although I have discovered you can get fancier versions that are more expensive. I don’t know where my sister bought mine, but I actually found a site on the internet where you can get your own Saint Joseph in the Basic (just the statue and the prayer), Original (with cloth tote and burial bag!!!), or Deluxe kit (which gives you all of the aforementioned, in addition to an online listing). Who knew?
Anyway, within a week I was getting calls. The first people that came to see the house were hooked, I could tell. There is just a vibration that happens when you find something that is right, and a look some people get when they are trying to hold their cards close to their vest but are busting, you know? I could tell they were trying to be nonchalant as they left to look at other properties, but I knew they would be back. I was totally honest and straightforward with them. I just let it all unfold. They did eventually buy my house, although they dragged it out a bit and it was not the smoothest of transactions in the end. Actually, they became rather a pain in the ass, so much so that my daughter and I started to refer to them as “The Lemon People” because they must have returned to the house over eleven times to look yet again, for lengthy tours and visits where they poked around with increasingly sour, lemon faces as they debated and complained about things that had nothing to do with me and were things I could not change – like the size of the bathtub – probably in an effort to get the price down. They did get my price down too, but I did as well, if not better, than I would have with a realtor. After all, the instructions that came with the statue made no guarantees about how easy it would be, only that it would happen. In the end it seems Saint Joe did the job, if you are so inclined to want to believe that. It is interesting to note that the guy who bought the place happened to be named Joe.
Some suggest that you dig up Saint Joseph and put him in a place of honor after your house is sold. This was not possible, as the ground was frozen solid when I moved out. Someday the Lemon People may be weeding their lilies and find him upside-down in the dirt. I wonder if they will know what it is about, or if they do, will they then think they were overtaken by some force beyond their will?
cloth tote with burial bag! Online listing! hahahaha. Love your description of the Pennysaver…so cleverly stated. This story is so funny to me, thanks
I bought a St. Joe when we listed the Tree House. I found him in the gift shop of this monastery place in the county – it was packaged as a sell-your-house kind of kit. I did not dig him up either – I confess to being angry at him for taking so long – and since it took so long I forgot where he was….
Nice story, although the last part is a bit dubious in my eyes. I do hope to see more of this, but how can I stay updated with your posts? Best regards from Holland!