Jan 9, 2009

Megan's post today about how she came to own her late Aunt's dining table and chairs, reminded me of how my father divvied up my mom's possessions after she died. My mom died suddenly, although not unexpectedly in August of 1988. She was just 63, but she had been in declining health for some time. Diabetes and a bad heart did her in. My dad called me at one or two in the morning to say that Mom had died and that he was at the hospital emergency room. I went there, along with Daughter Sneed and found that all my siblings had already arrived. After we settled up at the hospital we all went back to my folks house, where in the early morning hours my father decided it was time to settle on who got what of my mom's possessions. It was truly a truly weird experience, both in its timing and because my mom had almost nothing in the way of personal possessions. I guess it was Dad's way of dealing. Within the next day or two, my dad gave away all of my mom's clothing and the bed that she died in. He replaced it with a single bed that he slept in until he was too sick and old to live alone any longer. Almost seventeen years to the day after my mom's death, I got up in the morning and went into my dad's room to see if he was awake. I discovered that he had passed away during the night. He had come home from the hospital the previous evening. They sent him home to die and die he did. I summoned the hospice nurse to the house to do all the paperwork that must be done and then called my siblings, their families and our children to come over before Dad was removed from his room. Later after the hospice workers and the people from the funeral home had done their work, my bother, sister and I went to Dad's house and in his tradition, took what we wished to have from his effects. My dad was an infuriating guy in many ways. And by many ways, I mean M-A-N-Y ways. One was his penchant for giving things away. He bought very little, used stuff until it was worn out. He gave away anything he couldn't think of an immediate use for or thought someone else needed more than him. Nothing was more maddening that picking out a gift for Dad only to find that a relative now was enjoying it. The joke at our house was, if you wanted ideas for a gift for Dad, you just called my brother or sister and asked them what they would like, because that's where it would probably wind up anyway. I think I took only some things that I had given him over the years, chiefly a couple of really nice writing pens, still unused in their original box. Dad was a felt tip man and Bics served him just fine, thank you. I also took his WWII era desk and chair. Everything else went to the others or to the Salvation Army. Just as it should have been. Things in this blog represented to be fact, may or may not actually be true. The writer is frequently wrong, sometimes just full of it, but always judgmental and cranky

11 comments:

Steve said...

It's good that this potentially painful process was so orderly in your family. I think your Dad had it right -- when you don't own stuff, there's nothing to worry about!

Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

That is so sad...

I'm sorry buddy.

Megan said...

"Just as it should have been."

Indeed.

Adrianne said...

Merle my friend, I love it when you do this type of post.

Squirrel said...

I didn't get any momentos from my parent's tiny pile of stuff after they passed away - I believe this was because I was not a legal adult yet, and my older "adult" siblings were in charge. (particularly the oldest- he just took everything, asap!!.) this caused the others to start a major fight with him. As usual, I refused to get involved. Never really felt I missed out, although at the time I'm sure I must have wanted some trinket-- an old book, a pen. ( some money would have come in handy) In my usual daze, I didn't even realize I got nothing til months later.

Squirrel said...

It was nice of you to care for your dad after your mom passed.

alphabet soup said...

Ah, the division of the family spoils - often leading to other, far reaching family divisions.

Ms Soup

Barbara said...

Your dad would have gotten along well with mine. They could have traded their stuff back and forth for years.

My father got a little paranoid toward the end and started hiding things all over the house like a squirrel. He hid my mother's wedding ring and diamond earrings under a panel behind the wood stove. I'm thankful that he told me about that one!

phd girl said...

I was lucky to get my uncle's portable hair dryer collection.

Kurt said...

My dad will never die. The TV needs him too much.

bella rum said...

I've labeled some of the things that I brought to Dad's house when we moved here. No need for there to be confusion when someone tries to walk off with my candlesticks.