We're just back from a gruelling weekend in Atlanta. Husband's father's house looks like it's imploded, turned completely inside-out, with the contents of closets piled up on rugs, hundreds of books piled up haphazardly in boxes or against walls, pictures taken down and leaning precariously in doorways. When I walked in, I was instantly overwhelmed.
I feel terrible for Husband. It's so hard for him to pack up his parents' whole life in a few short weekends. I've mentioned before that our own house is small with very little extra storage space, and for once I wish we lived in a bigger house so that we could store a lot more of all the things that he's so attached to, that were a part of his growing up. He went through his parents' clothing this weekend to pack things up for donation and this seemed to be the hardest thing for him so far. His mother died 4 years ago, but his father's clothes still smell like him. China and silver mean nothing to Husband compared to the clothing he so vividly remembers his mom and dad actually wearing.
The worst thing for me was the estate auctioneer who was invited to peruse the contents of the house ear-marked for sale. This man is a friend of Husband's older brother, but neither Husband nor I feel like this means he's at all scrupulous about selling these things. We all walked through the house together, pointing out items that we felt were valuable, and enduring the cynical comments of this jerk--a box full of silver and pewter items ("Silver plate. And THAT thing is just stainless steel."), an antique rocker ("Yeah, it's nice, I guess, but no one wants them. I'll get about $25 for it."), REALLY nice woven wool rugs ("Your parents paid $800 for it? It's a beautiful rug. It'll probably go for $75 if we're lucky."), and on and on through the entire house. It was just awful.
At the end, this man said they might get a couple thousand dollars for their parents' entire household, because really their stuff was "pretty run-of-the-mill." This prompted Husband, who at this point was pissed and upset, to ask how the hell he made any money at all if he was only earning a commission on a couple thousand dollars for each estate sale. Was that really all there was to his business? Husband is convinced that these guys come in and quietly remove the really valuable stuff to auction off on ebay or sell to their antique store pals--if they don't actually run a store themselves--and never tell you what it was they skimmed off. It's true that they don't provide you with any sort of inventory of the estate, nor a list of what is sold and for how much. It sounds damn fishy, but given our distance from Atlanta there just doesn't seem to be another option.
And the final indignity is that it's quite likely that Husband and his brother will end up owing the auctioneer money! I look forward to all this being over.