One afternoon, years ago, my husband and I went to an estate sale. The homeowners died, their family removed all the items they wanted to keep, and the rest was left ‘as is’ for the estate sale. I remember feeling very sad as I walked through this particular home. I imagined the items left behind had stories to tell, and I felt a little guilty fumbling through these unknown memories.
While going through the house, I remembered back when my Dad died. Eventually, my Mom decided to move, and she had an estate sale of sorts, selling many things my Dad left behind that we did not feel the need to keep. I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of strangers going through my Dad’s things, but I preferred that option over taking things to the dump.
That afternoon, Rob and I purchased a few items from the estate sale, and I added my name to a mailing list to inform me of future sales. I have not been to an estate sale since that particular afternoon, but I continue to receive weekly emails.
About three weeks ago, I noticed the “estate sale of the week” was taking place in the neighborhood where a sister of mine lives. When I forwarded the email to my sister, her heart sank. Though she had not heard the father died, she did know the family.
When she went to the estate sale, it was a little emotional for her. She learned about how the father died and that the mother was being moved to a retirement community. The children had gone through the house and removed the items they wanted, leaving the rest for the sale.
The process was the same as the one I experienced years ago, but this time, because my sister knew the family, it felt a little more personal. My sister purchased two chairs for me (per my request), as well as some gardening tools for her and her husband.
I know that when my sister and her husband use the gardening tools, she’ll remember her neighbor out walking his dog, talking about the home-owner’s association, etc.
Today, I received my weekly notice of two upcoming estate sales. And, as is always the case, I clicked on the email, and I accessed the link for pictures of the items included in the sale.
This week’s estate sale has taken me aback more than previous estate sales. This estate sale consists of gorgeous items from a large and gorgeous home. Included in the items for sale is a painted picture of what I can only imagine is the family, perhaps painted by one of the family members.
I have gone through the slide show a number of times. I see the items – left behind by the family – soon to be bought by strangers, unaware of the memories or the history that exists in the items.
We’ve all heard a saying similar to “It’s just ‘stuff’, and you can’t take it with you when you die.” I understand that saying, and I know it to be true. Still, when I look at this huge home filled with wonderful pieces of furniture – some priceless antiques, no doubt – I cannot help but feel a sense of sadness.
I am willing to bet the family worked hard for everything they owned. I assume there is a history with the house and the items in the house. Still, what’s it all for? We can’t take it with us, and we cannot guarantee we’ll have a family with whom to leave it.
Looking at the home filled with such wonderful things, I think to myself, “What a waste.” We all have the ability to be materialistic. There are some things that we tell ourselves we cannot live without and are must-haves. But, as depressing as it is, we’ll still die.
It’s not so much that the want gets to me; rather, it is the shock of it still existing after we are gone. All that stuff – all those things we had to have – left behind, as if we never existed.
Before I die, assuming death doesn’t find me for another 50 years or more and my death is not sudden, I hope to get rid of what is not wanted by my family. I don’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of stuff when I die, nor do I want my kids to have to go through a bunch of stuff left behind by me.
It just seems sad – a house full of stuff but absent of life.
Comments are pending approval due to my Wednesday’s What is It post. Comments will be released on Friday.