The “We’re Not Dead Yet Estate Sale”

In a six-year period, my family has been faced with the task of clearing out three homes after someone’s death and liquidating the things therein. Two of those homes belonged to hoarders—piles of papers and magazines, 40 years of receipts, clothes, and shoes, new things still in boxes, enough socks for an army, toiletries and food long expired. My mom was very different. She purged stuff regularly and was very neat and tidy. Still, just the furnishings, clothes, and other everyday items were overwhelming, and under the surface were bottles and bottles of lotion, an absurd number of scissors, several broken curling irons, things like that.

It’s enough to make one take a long, hard look at one’s own home.

On top of this, a lot of my life has felt out of control. My son got engaged (yay!) and he and his fiancée are looking at buying a business in Sequim, WA, a plane flight and 3-hour drive from the closest airport (boo for the distance, yay for the opportunity, emotional clutter galore for the mom). My husband’s business closed, and we still haven’t figured out what that means for us. Aspects of my job are changing without my say-so; our contract is back up for negotiation; much about next year is up in the air. Stuff.

It’s enough to make one try to figure out what she can actually control, and once again, she looks at her home. The one she has lived in for 21 years.

It started with the master bathroom vanity. Suddenly I found myself looking at it all through the eyes of someone cleaning it out after I’m dead. (I had a lot of scissors, too, BTW. What’s with scissors? And curling irons?) I imagined the kids looking at each other and saying, “Another one of these?” Then I figured it couldn’t hurt to go through the study. I could hear one of the kids asking the other, “Why did she keep this? What is it, even?” I started to gather up things to give away.

Tory noticed it all, and we realized that, with a number of the people who would look askance at us giving away old things gone, we could actually divest ourselves of a lot, like the oversized and prodigious dining room set we inherited from his grandmother. Why, we could create a dining room that allowed the person in the farthest seat to actually get up and leave the table if necessary—a feat that could not previously be accomplished because of the huge table, buffet, and china cabinet.

And while we were at it, we attacked the basement and even (insert horror movie scream) THE CRAWL SPACE!!!

All of which leads to next weekend and the “We’re Not Dead Yet Estate Sale.” Yes, I’m taking a sick day. No, I guess I’m technically not supposed to, but I’m genuinely considering it mental health. After all the stress of the last year—the chronic acid reflux, the hair falling out (for which I strongly recommend Mediceuticals for Thinning Hair, BTW; great stuff!), the weird and inexplicable meltdowns—I’m calling it a legit mental health activity to clear this stuff out and regain control over some aspect of my life.

To my children: You’re welcome. You have no idea what your father and I are saving you from someday, though hopefully not soon.

Looking for dining room furniture? A queen-sized brass bed? Cedar chest? Ginormous bean bag? Christmas tree? CDs? DVDs? China? Linens? Silver-plated trays? Lord knows what else? I’ll be creating an event and putting it on Facebook. Come, buy, chat. Oh, and if you’re looking for Hummel, let me know. It was my grandmother’s, and while I kept a few sentimental pieces, you’ll never believe how much is left.

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Paula is an author of historical fiction as well as a wife, mom, and teacher.
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2 Responses to The “We’re Not Dead Yet Estate Sale”

  1. Irene says:

    This is scarier to me than all the other things you’ve been through in the past year. One thing–make money from this sale! Don’t give stuff away, like the brass bed, but charge a goodly amount. Having a nice vacation money stash at the end of the sale will make it worthwhile. I’d LOVE to be able to see your “stuff”, but alas, too far away! Good luck.

    • admin says:

      I suspect we’ll do all right. In the end, getting rid of things matters more than money, because anything we don’t sell is getting donated, but I just bought a king-sized bed and mattress to replace the queen, so we’d better net enough from the sale to cover that. 🙂

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