By Joe Rector
The other day a friend told me that her dad’s house was up for sale and that the hardest part of all was divvying up the contents between brothers and sisters (I refuse to use the word “sibling”). It’s a job that most of us never want to undertake, but because that’s the way life’s course runs, we must complete it at some time.
My mother passed almost twenty years ago. She’d fought the good fight against the cancer that ate away at her body until she just grew too tired. In the end, she let go when she knew that her children would be okay without her. The Saturday before she died, the six of us sat around her bed at home and sang some of her favorite songs while my brother Dal played the guitar.
She was gone, but her house was still there. Daddy and she built the house in the early 40’s. After work each day, they traveled to “the country” to make the blocks for the house. Inside that house were more than 50 years of treasures and other things not so special. Not a single argument between us three boys occurred. Mother had given most items to us throughout the years and had taped our names to the backs of most things. With reservations, we moved those pieces to our own homes. Doing so made our hearts ache because we realized the house was being emptied for the last time by our family.
A few items were harder to divide. A large box held years of photos of our family and other relatives. We managed to share them so that each of us had some pictures of times when those we loved were all still alive. Other special items were distributed according to whom they were most important. We now use some of them and put others on display on shelves.
What was left was an assortment of things. We decided to hold an estate sale on our own. Actually, the sale was more like a garage sale, but tables of things were lined up along the driveway. Some larger items were left inside, and interested buyers were welcome to browse.
We sold a large armoire that was located in the bedroom upstairs. The buyers and I worked for a couple of hours but never figured out how to get the bulky item down the stairs and through the door on the right. Disappointed, they toted the piece back up the stairs and left it there. I also sold a metal building that could have served as a small home or office for someone. It was hauled off and converted into a concession stand at a high school football stadium.
My family still laughs at my actions that day. They swear that every time someone asked the price of an item that I held up three fingers and squawked “three dollars.” All I know is that things that looked to be nothing more than junk were bought, loaded up, and hauled away.
Not everything was sold, however. Mother was a packrat, and she squirreled away things that no one wanted. Stacks of National Geographic magazines filled one corner in the attic. She also kept piles of school materials from her years of teaching. A mountain of fabric, most of it polyester, was heaped in her sewing desk and in drawers of other dressers. We worked up a sweat as we loaded the unwanted things for a trip to the dump.
Noting is much harder to do than pack up the place that we called home as children. It’s difficult to admit that the time has come to let go of the old home place. However, what my brothers and I discovered through the process of closing down the house was that we had a chance to remember good times and become closer. Today, Rick and June live in Mama’s house. They love it and have made it their own. I’m glad to know that the place has undergone a rebirth and will house another family’s wonderful memories.
So, to my friend I can say I know the hurt that comes with closing down your dad’s house. However, I also know that you and yours will have the chance to “REMEMBER.” That alone can bring plenty of smiles and sighs and tears. Embrace the task; it is another wonderful part of life.