Selling Memories

This weekend we had an estate sale to clear out a lot of my mother’s things for my dad because he’s moving to a smaller house.

The amount of stuff my mother had was unbelievable.  We all knew she had a lot.  We’d even seen all the stuff at various points of our lives.  But, when we pulled it all out and compiled it – the sight was amazing.  In fact, the task seemed overwhelming.


We decided to have a two day sale.  (In retrospect we should have had a three day sale, but hindsight is 20/20 so whatever).  We had flowers from four weddings, huge amounts of Christmas decorations, more wicker basket options than you’d find at any home store, an entire library worth of books, and the most insane amount of fabric you could imagine. Those were the main items, and then we still had toys, games, clothes, furniture, and household items.  My sisters and I added a few of our own things to sell and we all plunged in head first.


A small amount of the flowers we had.fabric


A corner of the fabric section

What I found the most amazing (aside from the billions of items we actually had for sale) was the different emotional response we all had to selling off items our mom picked out for us and for herself.  There were very specific varying degrees of attachment and response.

1. Detached except for a very few select items.

This was me.  I have very little attachment to things.  I love photos and memories.  I don’t need the physical item to remember and I don’t feel any closer just by having those items around.  After I made the first sale I teared up.  I didn’t want the stuff, but it was hard to see people walking off with my mom’s things. And, I caught my breath when my old cabbage patch kids were pulled out of the bin. I distinctly remembered working hard to earn the money to buy them and the site of them brought immediate memories.  But, it wasn’t difficult for me to set aside the nostalgia when it came time to do what we needed to do.

2. A blend of attached and detached, but reasonable.

My little sister was all about letting go of things and cleaning out for my dad.  But, she was also honest about grabbing things and saying “I know it’s completely unreasonable, but I want this and am not letting it go.” She only did it a few times, and a few times she would say something like “I really want to keep that, but I can’t use it and don’t need it.

3.Attached to every.single.item.

Our oldest sister struggled each time someone bought something.  She’d go take things out of people’s hands and say “sorry, that’s not for sale.”  She would recount stories of items and half the time I’d forgotten the story until she shared it again.

It was amazing that we were all raised in the same house and had such varied responses.  We all saw different value in all the items.  It wasn’t a matter of who was right and who was wrong.  It was just an excellent study of the differences of humans in the same situation.

The one thing for sure – we were all emotionally drained by the end of the weekend.  We knew we had a big job and we did it.  I’m so thankful it’s over.





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