Monday, February 20, 2006

Turning solids into liquid

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.

14 comments:

Nancy said...

Ugh, that's terrible how the estate auctioneer behaved. Even if his estimates are accurate, he could have been a lot more tactful about things -- dismissing items that have tremendous sentimental value, if nothing else, should be done more respectfully. I hope he's wrong and that everything proves to be very valuable.

Amber said...

That sounds absolutely horrible! Sorry it was such a rough weekend! If he's going to owe the auctioneer at the end anyway then can't he just donaye to goodwill or some other charity? Most of them will pick up donations even and then you'll at least get a tax deduction for it. Or is there any way to do an estate sale/ garage sale? Just tell people to make ofers or something- then donate the rest?

Mommygoth said...

Jeezy creezy, Slime. That is just horrific.

theyellowwallpaper said...

Oh, God. That sounds utterly horrible. And I'm with your husband. It does sound more than a little suspicious.

I know it was recommended by an earlier commentor. But, why don't you donate it and then you can write it off your taxes?

HolyMama! said...

Oh, I'm so sorry! Your husband has enough to deal with without that awful man, too!

Lena said...

Ooooh, I am with husband on this one. They did the same thing with my dad's estate and my stepmother is still trying to get an accounting a year later!

Imperfect Mommy said...

That sounds awful... it's no wonder that these people get away with this stuff b/c just like you said, everyone just wants to get it over with. How sad and painful. Maybe you could rent a storage unit so you can take more of the sentimental and/or valuable things?

Moonface said...

What a complete jerk! How awful it must have been for you and especially your husband.

Mama D said...

That all sounds just awful. I can't imagine how hard it must have been for the both of you. I do not look forward to the day when either Peter or myself will be faced with the same thing. Love and support to you!

Belle said...

I am so sorry about the weekend, I know that was hard on your hubby, and in turn, hard on you. I will be glad for you when it is over, too.

Dawn said...

I am so sorry that this happened. I can't imagine how awful this whole ordeal has been.

With braided wool rugs - though - There is a HUGE market for them. I know. I have seen olders ones go for thousands of dollars.

Do not let this guy undersell you.

Nixie Knox said...

That sounds just awful. I am so sorry you and Husband have to go through this.

Jess Riley said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear this. It's so hard to go through the belongings of a loved one who recently passed away--let alone to endure the crummy, cynical comments of a guy like that auctioneer. Makes you wonder if he was born without a heart.

Erin said...

That is just awful. I wish you could just find someone new and tell that guy to buzz off. My heart goes out to you guys.