Monday, July 04, 2011

Who Gets What

Sorting out the disposition of family heirlooms and other treasures can be a minefield for adult children after their parents die. I began cleaning house for an old guy shortly after his wife died, and I worked for him a few years before he also died, and there was so much infighting among his 5 children about who would get the family treasures – and there were a large number of antiques and other beautiful things – that they finally decided the only way to settle the arguments was to have a public auction and everybody had to buy what ever it was they wanted; of course with the worry that some of the items would pass out of the family if his kids could not cough up the money to outbid strangers for particularly nice things.

Some years ago, after my mother heard about a particularly nasty battle that went on among the family members of one our relative's in-laws over a toy tricycle, she decided that, “we aren’t having that in our family,” and so she distributed some of the nonessential treasures. I got the small ornate sewing scissors that she used and some figurines, my sister got the piano, and so on…

When I was there in June I decided to appropriate for myself – after getting the OK from my father – that had great meaning to me from “way back” but that I had a good idea meant little to my brothers or my sister.

My father’s oldest sister, Aunt Betty, had given The Jar to him when I was young, and one of my earliest memories was being mesmerized by what was in The Jar. Unlike The Jar so creepily written about by Ray Bradbury and dramatized so well by Alfred Hitchcock, this did not hold any terrors for me. I loved this collection of reptiles and amphibians. It had been sitting in the garage on a shelf since the early 1960s.

Over the years the formaldehyde had evaporated to the point that some of the specimens were close to being  ruined, and I could not stand it. So, it made the trip home with me and I rehabilitated it.

And even though some of the once brightly colored specimens have become bleached out because of the sun shining on them, I still enjoy looking at it, I suppose because of the memories it brings of my Aunt and Uncle .

And just so y’all don’t think I am totally weird, I also have a teapot that belonged to one of the grandmothers (not sure if it was my mom's mom or my dad’s mom) that I love too...

and periodically fill with dried flowers.

And I just want my family to know that I will not fight with anybody over the disposition of the butcher knife. This was a present that Aunt Betty gave to my folks when they got married in 1945. It is still being used and is as thin as a razor and just as sharp, and sparks could fly when it comes time to decide who gets it. You three can work it out. Richard, however, says he would like the potato peeler, if nobody minds.


Far Side of Fifty said...

You are one of a kind..glad you rescued your jar contents..if you liked it as a love it as an adult:)

Oklahoma Granny said...

Unfortunately I've been witness to what happens when (grand)parents pass on and siblings are at odds with one another because so-and-so wanted (insert some special family memento here). So sad!

My husband's aunt passed several years ago leaving only 1 daughter and 2 grown grandchildren. After their families went through all of her things, my husband's cousin decided extended family members should come and pick a few things that held special memories for them from what was left. My husband wanted an old clock that was housed in the side of a gold horse statue. Our children wanted a ceramic duck candy dish that always held treats for the kids when family got together. My daughter had hoped a lava lamp was still to be had. The horse clock and the candy dish did come home with us but one of the great-grands had special memories of the lava lamp and it went home with her.