When my mother died, my parents’ home, their furnishings (much of it family antiques), their photos, memorabilia, books, china, everything . . . remained in place because my father survived. But now he too is gone.
Yesterday my brothers and I spent many hours going through it all. We had to empty his unit at assisted living. We had to move it all into the as yet unsold condo that was their last home and was still fully furnished. Since it now must be sold, everything in it must be disbursed one way or another. We would love to keep some of the antiques in the family but shipping a piece of furniture to another state is remarkably costly. Furniture, no matter how valuable, doesn’t sell for much anymore. The market is glutted since all the foreclosures. So what to sell? What to try to keep? What to donate? (Actually, this is how most of it will go.) Making these decisions elicits a vague sense of betrayal.
But we got a lot done, made long lists of what must be dealt with from cancelling pensions to returning ‘talking books’ equipment to – and this was the hardest – sorting through photos and letters etc. (I ended up taking most of that home to do when there’s more time.) We’ve given ourselves a month to get the place ready for a realtor. Need to have it carpeted and painted and deeply cleaned. And everything must be out of there.
Yesterday, we moved a lot of the furniture around to prepare for what had to be brought in. We disposed of all clothes, most of the kitchen and bathrooms and lots of other miscellaneous detritus of a lifetime. And now – with empty drawers, no pictures on the tables,no paintings on the walls,not even a telephone or TV remote – the things of their lives no longer seem familiar.
They look forlorn. Lost. Unattached to any person or function. Orphans.