This is how it begins. "Hey. my mom just went into a nursing home and my Dad has dementia...and I need to help them get the house sold. What do I do?"
This is a highly charged sentence. It means loads of things. Mostly, it's going to be a lot of work. And the tumultuous task of going through the junk drawer, let alone your mother's underwear drawer and the ATTIC is almost too much to think about. Emotional madness!
Just recently, i decided to host estate sales for people. It is the most gratifying work I've ever done. Luckily, I am an organizer to begin with. And I have this logic, you begin "at the beginning" and go around the perimeter. I move furniture with the help of furniture moving apparatuses, clean and glue. Stuff that needs to be gone through goes to the center of the room for the time when I need to sit down with my coffee and relax. Researching costs and then pricing. I am good at what I do. That I know.
So, as the the family goes through things, they remember all the warm hugs, Christmas mornings, first days of school. The way things used to be. This time is highly emotional and heart-breaking. Luckily, I am neutral. I can observe the family memories and smile at the way they did holidays and life. I learn so much about each individual in the family by the way they organized their life, (and yes, I talk to them as I sort). The way they cooked, hung their clothing, saved bars of soap...Many times, the kids have moved out and there are only remnants of their existence. Photos, old toys and baby cloths. Saved letters.
I have a system. The ultimate goal is to get items in the hands of those who will once again cherish them. The antiques as they were, are meant to change hands. The collector respects the object and will hold it dear just as your mother did. That is a good thing. Then there are the household/garage sale people. They too are using these objects to do life in their own way. Collecting kitchen utensils and candles. The bargain/treasure hunt is paramount to the event. The stories the buyers tell are just as good as the folks who are doing the purging. The consistent customer who shows up at all my sales are my treat. They arrive with smiles and their recycle bags, ready to be directed to the object'dart on their mind. With the help of my cashier-assistant, we chat, drink coffee and eat our apple fritters, talking about the great find from the last sale and hoping we will reach our goal and make everyone happy.
In the end, all you are trying to do is make a clean sweep of the house without losing too much money, without overlooking the piece of glass that is worth more than you thought (let's ebay that) or finding the box of photos and family recipes from 4 generations ago that you would have trashed because it looked like dirty paper....
Here is what you do. Call me. Call before you hire a dumpster. Don't get crazy and stop thinking straight. That's what I'm here for. Call me. I'll be here for you. Mostly because I know how much it means to you.