Sorting through a loved one’s belonging and making decisions with family members can cause tension in the most cohesive of families. This was certainly the case with my family, but we in the end we all remembered what was truly important, each other.
Five years after Dad passed, Mother followed him to Heaven. She had lived in the family home for sixty-two years and had no interest in sorting through treasures or trash or making any major changes.
So now, after an appropriate time, it fell to her four daughters to face the challenge, make the decisions and divvy up the contents. It became obvious after several days roaming around the house and determine what should go and what could be agreed upon as to who and what should happen to the items with some value, which we would graciously share with each sister.
And that is when all the love for their folks and each other reared its ugly heads. It became clear that this was not going to be an easy or even decent chore. Each sister had a viable reason why she should be the recipient of the item.
“I’m the oldest and I loved that piece all my life. Mother assured me it would someday be mine.”
Each of the daughters had similar arguments and sometimes raised their voices to make the point. Tempers erupted, arrangements made and a whole lot of huffing and puffing filled those drawers, cabinets, cupboards and even some card board boxes.
Seems Mother had told each of her girls that certain items would be theirs when she passed. China, crystal, works of art, silver pieces became objects of disagreement. Ironically, there was no arguing about the 63 quart fruit jars that were sitting quietly on a shelf in the basement.
Feelings were hurt, tears were shed, and animosity filled every room. It seemed we could not do this in any harmonious fashion.
Mother did not have an attorney, she came from the school that her husband would care for her, and he had. However, no thought had been given to what came next.
After Dad was gone, I mentioned a will and she was old school and she was sure that wouldn’t be needed. “Of course you girls can sort it out and do what’s right.”
No we couldn’t!
And we all decided that a will or some document, preferably notarized, should have been created and we each vowed to do that for our families.
But this large four-bedroom house was still a challenge. Ironically, those items with little or no value were put in a pile and no one argued when we each selected a memory.
We had a time frame to complete this task, so the house could be put on the market. None of us still lived in the old home town, we had scattered to the winds when we began our lives, families or careers in different locals. Some in the State, one on the West Coast.
When we met, for the last time, to complete the task of cleaning out the treasures and the trash, one sister began to chuckle. When asked why, she said, “Can you believe how tough this would have been if we had to deal with sisters-in-law.”
When all was said and done, we all knew that what we were missing is something things can never replace. I’m not sure who sang the first note, but we all knew the song. “I want a girl, just like the Pearl who married dear old dad”. Our Mother’s name was Pearl, so Dad, with his booming baritone voice, always changed the word. And we all chimed in.
I still get teary eyed to this day. My sisters have all passed, but the memories linger forever.
– Isobel from Hot Springs, Arkansas, a FAR customer who is finding purpose in this new stage of her life.
* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Finance of America Reverse (LLC).