With the passing of our folks, we were left with raw emotions, exhaustion and an estate needing to be dealt with. A Fambly Circle was called by me, the new ‘Matriarch’. My eclectic bunch of siblings deemed me to be so, as the eldest and bossy sister. Patrick had said, “We always do what you tell us to do, so why stop now!”
Thankfully, we had talked with Mom and Dad, and a couple of key roles were already in place before they passed. Jake was executor and we as siblings, agreed to sell the house. The folks had met our Realtor, Liz Timothy, early in the summer, and welcomed her insight and knowledge as to what was best to do for the successful sale – thus the shingles, mentioned in a previous blog.
Our first agreement in our Fambly Circle was to take. a. break. We needed a time-out from everything – and create a new normal within our personal lives. Hugs, kisses, tears, laughter and waves “Goodbye”, were exchanged as we departed en masse from the folks driveway.
Seven Siblings and Our Folks – Last Christmas Together With Them
A month or so later, we siblings only, “The 7”, no spouses or significant others, gathered around the folks dining room table. In honor of the folks, we started with a prayer (I think they were smiling all day long). We took turns, eldest to youngest, stating one item at a time we wanted from the folks. ‘Round and ’round we went, some of us bowing out after a few ’rounds … until there was silence and a sigh. Amazing – no one wanted or had to have – something someone else had asked for. (Gosh I love this bunch!)
We then put post-it-notes on our stuff – stopped – looked around and realized – we still had a CrAzY amount of stuff to deal with.
We decided to do a Fambly Auction, with Jake printing up “Grandpa Bucks” in various denominations. All the Fambly was invited from babies to big people. Everyone got the same amount of $$ to bid with. They could combine their $$ with others, if they were hot and heavy into a purchase. EVERYTHING purchased, had to be hauled out of the house by the end of the weekend. Including “The 7’s” earlier items. Jake was the Auctioneer – he was a hoot!
One of my favorite memories – My grandson Declan, was 6 years old. He had been seriously watching and observing how this ‘bidding game’ was being played. After a bit, Jake gave a great presentation on the giant tv console in the living room. Declan piped up, “$10!”. Jake said, “We’ve got $10 from Declan, do we have $15?”. Declan yelled “$15!” (He really wanted it!) Jake smoothed it over and asked for another bid from everyone – once – silence – twice – silence – three times – silence. “SOLD to Declan for $10!”, declared Jake. Everyone cheered, Declan jumped up and down, clapping his hands. “I got it, I really, really got it!!” Jake swept his hands over the TV in the console with a flourish, “This TV, which you can see, fits perfectly inside this beautiful console, Declan just bought. I’m asking for a bid of $5 … does anyone have a bid?” There was silence. “Declan, do you have a bid?”, asked Jake. “$5!!!”, Declan said with excitement. “SOLD to DECLAN! for $5”, yelled Jake. Again, there were cheers from the crazy Fambly crowd!!!!
After the auction … and helping each other load trailers, vans and trucks, we set a date and agreed to get back together again, as there was still – stuff. Not as much, but still .. lots and lots of stuff.
Our final clearing was done. I was grateful to my niece, Nicky, who took care of Mom’s closet. Many donations to various organizations. Mom had numerous books from a Catholic Book Store she once owned, Hosanna House, in downtown Brainerd. My sister, Kyung, and William, took them all to St. Francis School and donated them to their library. Rick had a trailer that hauled things to the landfill and things everywhere else. That felt good!
The hardest thing for me, when we began this process, was the beginning to do it. My beginning to do it, was taking one of Mom’s magnets off the refrigerator. I began to cry. That was it for that day. One magnet. I left and walked across the yard, home.
Now … The house was empty except for a few things for staging. (Sigh) We cleaned it up and had a showing. It looked ‘dated’ was the comment from a potential buyer. Mom liked wallpaper. Mom liked being creative with how she hung wallpaper. Mom liked wallpaper alot. Colors needed to go – so did the wallpaper. I stripped wallpaper like crazy. Then, started to paint. My brother, Patrick came and helped me paint … it was sad, but felt good.
The house was being filled with new light and open to new life.
…. And Sold! Thanks, Liz!
I love my Fambly. We are an odd bunch, with various quirks, gifts and talents. Love is the thread that weaves us together, holding frayed edges in place, circling together when it’s time to play or work or grieve.
My encouragement to you … Take your time when you lose someone(s). Feel your emotions. Be sad. Angry. Afraid. Lonely. Let them come out, don’t stuff them. You will get waves of emotions and memories popping up unexpectedly. It’s part of the grieving. There is no time-line for grieving. Take breaks. Breathe different air. Surround yourself with softness, kindness, understanding, forgiveness and most of all Love. Be with people. Be alone. Ask for help. Drink water. Lots and lots of water. More tears – more water. Remember to breathe. Remember to eat. Sleep. Walk. Walking is good. Go to church. Don’t go to church. Lean on people when you need to. Be gentle with yourself. In your gentleness, in your quiet time, peace will come. In time. God does not leave.
Thank you for sharing this walk with me. Wow, it continues to be a journey.
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