We buy houses with all the contents sometimes. Usually, someone has moved to a nursing home or passed away and the friend or family member helping to sell the house was not close to the owner and doesn’t care about the stuff or does not want to deal with the memories attached to the stuff. Either way, it all gets left behind.
This past month we purchased two houses like this and I had the privileged of doing some cleaning out this past weekend on one in Olathe. Don and Scott worked on the garage and the storage area and I worked on the living area. I want to urge every person who may read this to put time on your calendar to go spend time with your parents or grandparents and start with one closet. Go through one every few weeks, because there is a story there behind all those items just waiting to be relived by the person and to give you memories to cherish going forward.
For the house this weekend in Olathe, well I don’t know the whole story. Just that the seller was an executor of an estate for a family member who had passed away and that another friend had been staying in the house from time to time. But in cleaning out we learned so much more.
The owner had loved his house and sometime in the past 20 years had installed a beautiful new kitchen and stocked up on his favorite foods, which seemed to be Italian Pasta Dishes with a from-scratch sauce based on all the cans of tomatoes, sauce, sardines, and other ingredients and the entire shelf of spaghetti and egg noodles. But sadly this person must have passed away a while back as half the neatly stacked items in the cupboards had expired in 2009 the other half in 2018.
We then dug into the coat closet and found that the gentleman who had passed was into hunting as evidenced by all the coats and flannel shirts for that purpose. We also found a Superbowl Jacket, an Indian Motor Cycle shirt, and several Ford shirts all still with tags on. We found tons of tools, books on repair and lotions, potions, oils, and more for the repair of cars and motorcycles in the garage.
In the storage to go with all those Hunting Shirts, we found that he liked to shoot and load his own shells with the equipment and supplies to do so. He was into music with box after box of albums and he loved to read . . . or at least look at the photos with box after box of magazines from popular mechanics to muscle cars, time magazine to some more racy titles all stacked up and saved for us to find.
We then dug into the master bedroom drawers and closet. At some point there was a wife who loved to travel as evidenced by all the travel T-Shirts from all over the world and she loved her Boston Terriers as evidenced by all the books about them. We found condolence cards in the garage on her passing years before. The gentleman who had passed lived in his garage and all his keepsakes seemed to be there. Maybe she was the maker of the sauce we talked about earlier as those ingredients expired in 2009.
We then dug into one of the extra bedroom closets and this is where the daughter packed up all her memories for safekeeping until she had a suitable place of her own. That must not have ever happened, or she no longer wanted her 4 H trophies, her shirt she made with the Blue Ribbon still attached, her high school graduation cap and gown, or all the prom dresses, shoes, and clothes she was going to come back for someday.
There are a ton of memories in this house, and when I get the chance to dig through, I really enjoy it. It brings back memories of digging through my mother’s things. We took about a 3-year process of going through things before she passed. We started with the family photo album that was falling apart and she shared story after story on many of the pictures and she admitted she had no idea who some of the people were in a few of the others. Then we started one closet at a time, sorting, giving away, tossing out and reliving memories, while she was still there to remember them for me. We also tagged some of the items with names of who was to have it when she no longer needed it.
If you have the chance now to do the same with your parent, grandparent or friend, take the time. Go dig in and start with one closet. Don’t wait until it’s too late and then leave it for a total stranger like me to dig through.
What about the stuff, what are we doing with it? Well for the bigger items, they will end up on Facebook market place, for dishes and clothing and other household goods, we usually donate to that Thrift Store of some kind whenever possible so someone can get some good out of it And some of the memories, they find a way into our own homes. Walk around my house and you will find items that were once cherished by someone that I have never met, but they were left behind in a house and now have meaning for me.