No Easy Answer


My mother is of the generation that doesn’t do her own hair.  I guess when she was younger she did, but ever since I remember she went to the hairdresser once a week to have it done.  (I never had this luxury.  After two days mine looks like a greasy mess!)  I know, though, like any woman, it makes her feel better when her hair is styled , so I try to make an appointment for her every week.  We always start out with my mother saying she will call for an appointment.  She never does; she forgets she said it. So the next day I call and make it, and then call her.  “You didn’t have to do that.  I could have done it.  You’re so busy.”   When I pick her up I always hear the same complaint.  “I really want to go to Bonnie.  She knows how to do my hair.”  “But she’s in Riverside and you’re here,” I say.  “No, I think she’s moved.   She’s near me now.”    And so it goes . . .

Now that we had my mother safely ensconced in Atria assisted living, we had to concentrate on how we were going to keep her there.  She did have some savings which would keep her for awhile, but all her money was tied up in her house. After calculating what she would save on utilities and groceries by not living at home along with the cost of her board and care, I estimated she would have just three months before we had to come up with more money.    It was easy to see that we either had to rent or sell the house.  Since neither my brother or sister, or I wanted to deal with renters and the problems that could arise, even with a rental service, it became clear that we would have to sell.

Once we made this decision everything moved very quickly.  A reasonable offer was made the day after we listed the house. The biggest problem, now, would be what to do with all of Mom’s “stuff”.  She and Daddy were very organized so there wasn’t a lot of junk laying around, but the drawers and cupboards were filled as well as the garage.  Besides furniture, clothes and linens there were all the kitchen appliances, cookware and dishes, especially the good china and serving ware.    Mom also had valuable antique dishes, dolls, and other things that she had inherited.  Should we have a garage sale?  Do we want to take the time to sort and price everything?  What do we do with the things we think are worth a lot?

After deciding time was money and none of us wanted to do a garage sale we opted to have an estate sale.  Part of what influenced our decision was that the antique dealer who ran the sale had a list of thousands of people on his mailing/email list that would be contacted about our sale.   We also asked ourselves what would we do with everything that didn’t sell?  In an estate sale everything that doesn’t sell is reduced in price on the last day and then a another dealer comes in and buys what is left at an agreed price and then cleans the house.  The dealer would take 33% commission on the sales.  This sounded good.  We would not even have to clean out cupboards.  They would take everything out and price it.

So this is what we did.  We took the sentimental and really valuable things and left the rest.  It still took a lot of sorting, but was not near the job it would have been.   Would I do it this way again?  I did have some second thoughts when I went back to the house the day before the sale and saw everything of my parent’s laid out on tables.  And the prices.  I knew some antiques were worth more and was tempted to take them back, but things were priced to sell.  Was I willing to take boxes of glassware and knick knacks from store to store to try to sell them?  I think not.


One response »

  1. I am waiting for the rest of the story. Very good. It was so hard to know that some of the things we grew up with went. I have been spending the last hour on computer looking at antique dolls on ebay. They really vary in price.

    Did you get my email?

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