From One Extreme to Another

What I love about my work is that no two days, or families, are alike.  I recently worked with a child of an elderly parent who is “ready to get the ball moving and clear out the house now.”  Not time to go through it much — just get it empty and ready to be sold.  Why?  Because he has a financial interest in the property and he openly admitted it.

On the flip side, I know of other children of the elderly who are painstakingly going through the estate to uncover (and even cherish) every piece of paper mom ever touched.  I have seen people hug toasters claiming a special “memory” and even packing up her old coupons to keep, though they expired in 1971.

Somewhere there has to be a happy medium.

I have seen children claim they’re not taking much from mom and dad’s estate because their own houses are so full there is no more room and “my husband will kill me if I take any more stuff.”  Then, when I go back into the estate to do my work, it has been so picked over, there is nothing left but donation items.

I have my own theories about why people have difficulty letting go, particularly the Depression era and older boomer children.  But what they don’t realize is these items will one day become a monkey on the backs of their children.  It’s time to give this serious thought.

The younger kids don’t want the majority of it; what their parents have done is pass the buck to another generation who doesn’t have the same appreciation for these items as their parents do.  As a result, these items will find their way to the dump, Goodwill, yard sales, etc.  And the child will be resentful that they have to take the time to deal with the stuff, because their parents never did.  That is not the kind of legacy I choose to leave.

Best as I can figure out, they believe that by leaving more stuff, they are leaving a valuable inheritance in their eyes.  No one can discount the value of sentiment, including me.  But why are they taking a table saw when they’ve never used one?  It will only take up a huge amount of space and become problematic in the future, sitting there with an inch or two of dust on it.  By the time someone goes to sell it, it will be considered antiquated and obsolete.  It’s only purpose at that point, will be as an anchor.

Keeping that in mind, I also find military medals thrown in the trash where they keep company with the family photos that have been tossed.  If it doesn’t make sense to you, then you’re in excellent company.  You just never know what you’re going to get.  It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

© 2012 Julie Hall


3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This is a tidal wave that is not approaching us, it is here – now and still coming. I am still trying to keep my head in the sand even as the wave washes over me – very typical, I’m sure of my Boomer cohorts.

  2. In the past 2 years, I, as the only local sibling, have had to close and sell in a horrible real estate market, my mother’s condo and dispose of her belongings, as well as help my father dispose of my step-mother’s belongings, as he sees fits. The current craze for “old stuff” has him believing he can make a fortune!! However, he doesn’t want to do the work to sell it himeself; he prefers that one of us do it for him!!

    I will not leave this kind of mess for my own 2 daughters, so I am now going through things to give away or sell whatever we do not use or the girls do not want.

  3. Another great post Julie……I see the same two polar opposites…..I try to tell the people who want to “hold on” to everything, even though they cannot use it or do not have room for it, to think how much their parent(s) (or other loved one) would love to have another person actually using, displaying and enjoying this item, thereby giving it another life, rather than sitting around gathering dust, or worse yet, packed away for years to come……

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