Monday, May 26, 2014

This That and the Other Thing at My Parents' House

As my regular readers know, my Dad passed away April 15.  My Mom died in 2007.  It is time to go go through their stuff.  The question is what to do with it.  Some of it is easy--those 2008 Christmas cards can hit the trash.  I want the dining room and my youngest wants the twin beds. The unwanted clothes, furniture, kitchen stuff etc can go to Goodwill or someplace similar--or maybe we can task the young adults with holding an estate sale (and let them keep the proceeds).  But what about the other stuff?  Genealogy was my Dad's retirement hobby and he had extensive files on all sorts of branches of the family.  I know what to do with the files on his side of the family--they will be boxed up and sent to a first cousin of mine who is into genealogy.  What about the stuff on my Mom's side?  As far as I know none of my cousins have adopted that hobby.  Dad was in contact with some folks from her side, but they are old and to send that stuff to them just means their kids will have to deal with it--and that if I want it back some day, it will be hard to find or not in existance.  And then there are the family pictures.  Some I recognize; some I don't.  What do I keep?  What do I pitch?  What do I do with my Mom's college yearbook?  My Dad's Air Force yearbook?  Dad's Ph.D. diploma?  Mom's college transcript?  Today I found letters my parents exchanged while engaged.  Do I keep them?  Why?  Will my kids care?

One of my brothers is getting the house.  He lives behind it and therefore wants control over what happens to it (or more precisely, what type of neighbors he has).  It is a 1950's ranch house that had two large rooms added to the back of it.  It is close enough to the beach to have high insurance premiums and far enough away that it lacks the glamour of beach-front property (and there is plenty of empty beach-front property since Katrina since the insurance is so costly).  In short, people who can afford to insure that house can afford nice houses, and  it isn't.  The kitchen cabinets and paneling are original to the house.  The wood floors need refinishing.  It has popcorn ceilings.  The moldings were not professionally done after Katrina and you can tell.  The house next door sold for $30,000, and like my brother said, there aren't too many people who would buy a $30,000 house that he wants to live next to.  Right now, the option getting the most consideration is the bulldozer.

We are keeping the house as is until it clears probate--and maybe longer.  I'm the only one who wants any major contents.  Until my brother decides what to do, it is there for folks to  use, and we are hoping extended family comes down, but the reality is that most of us have no desire to own that house and pay the bills associated with it.  It is either going to be torn down, rented or sold.  It is not going to become a family vacation home.  It is going to be sad when we start taking apart the home in which we were raised but the day is coming.

Have you dealt with your parents' house?  What did you do with the stuff?  How did you decide what to keep and what to let go?


  1. Gee, I missed a lot while my nose was stuck in my class books. I am so sorry about your dad's passing, RAnn. Prayers going up for you and all your family.

  2. My dad was renting a room in someone's home and had a storage unit so there wasn't much and so other than some personal stuff, it pretty much just got left behind for the landlords. There was no will, there was no insurance so we did what we could with the little time we had with little ones underfoot.
    My mom had a studio apartment - this time my brother and his fiancee were there to help. We loaded up my brother's truck to donate stuff, my aunt found someone that needed furniture and yes I have tucked away things like my mom's high school year book.... each time I do spring/fall cleaning I wonder about such items and occasionally I get rid of something. My kids never really knew their grandparents so it has even less meaning to them.

  3. Sorry to hear of your father's passing. My mom had a stroke in January this year, and my father passed away on March 11 of this year. My deepest sympathy to you and your family.

    It is awful to lose parents and to deal with all their precious things. We haven't had to do that yet, but am going to dread that day. There are eight kids in my family, and the family home is so dear to all of us.

    I wish I could help you decide what to do, but I will be dealing with that at some point too. I will be looking for advice from folks for you.

    HUGS, and take care.


  4. Ruth, it's SO daunting. My brother and I (mostly the bro) are still dealing with the "stuff" that Mom had.

    Her house had already mostly been emptied into storage, and we were lucky enough to get an offer on her house that wasn't so low we felt we were giving the house away. My brother walked through it before signing the papers, and really understood when he did just how much work it would've needed, and now we [he] are free of that particular albatross.

    We still have much "stuff" stored in a back room. Hopefully when we visit this summer I can help decide what to toss - and I have a feeling it will be a lot. My step-sibs went through and took what they wanted of my dad's side of the family's stuff, and that was a huge blessing. And really, I think the two of us are starting to not feel guilt about needing to keep all of it for the memories.

    A scanner can be your friend - just one thought on the geneology stuff. And if the old photos are really cool, you might be able to sell them on eBay :)

  5. Tough stuff. You want to honor their memories- but can be taken over by stuff. We broke up my parent's house when Mom moved to an apartment. Five kids- enough stuff for all of our houses and our kids' houses. We threw alway tons of photos. The scanner became our friend! We took old photos out of frames and scanned them. The photos then went into plastic sleeves with id. I scanned diplomas and then burned them.
    You might try the local LDS center with the genealogy stuff. Air Force Academy might take the year books (I'd put them on Craigslist knowing you live in an area where people might have lost their own copies of such things).
    My hubby cleaned out his parent's house. SIL took the furniture. BIL brought in antiques people and then had two huge yard sales. Last my hubby rented a huge dumpster and cleared the house. The only thing he kept- my FIL's AirForce Yearbook :) everyone has their own focus of memories.
    Good luck. It was heart wrenching and joy at the same time for us.


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