Memories and Goodbyes

How to begin? There have been no recent posts from me because we have been in North Tonawanda, New York for the past two weeks.  North Tonawanda is in western New York between Niagara Falls and Buffalo.  We were there working on my husband’s childhood home, doing an estate sale and then cleaning and painting the house and getting it ready to sell. Curt’s Father died last August and we had to put his Mom in a care center last fall, so he and his siblings were left to deal with a house on a very large lot. My husband and his siblings had each taken memory items, but then they were left with the accumulated stuff of 60 years of living. My Father-in-law (much like my husband) was a pack-rat. He was a carpenter/handyman/gardener and had tons of tools and stuff. He was the guy you went to and asked, “Do you have a file?” and he could go upstairs in the garage, a garage with a genuine hardwood floor like a dance hall that he salvaged from their church when it was replaced in the early 70s, and get 25 files out for you to choose from.

Last fall my husband’s sibs had two garage sales – mostly stuff from the garage and basement because Ma wouldn’t let them touch the main household.  They took a couple of loads of metal to the salvage yard and lined up the curb with bags and bags of garbage. No, my in-laws weren’t hoarders. Even with all that done, we spent four days going through the remaining stuff, hauling things up from the basement and down from the attic, going through the dressers and drawers, tagging and pricing. Of course there was the furniture, old and really old. Some nice, some so-so.

Chairs, couch, hutch

Cedar chest

We found some fun things. The kid’s toys saved for the grand kids to play with?

Cow pull toy

Bouncy Horse

Sleds, does anyone use these anymore?

And then some curious items. Antiques? Maybe, maybe not.

Charlie McCarthy spoon

A wringer. For practical use or just decor? And who doesn't need an extra trophy?

Local and national product placement

My Father-in-law was a carpenter.  He built the house we were working in and on. Did he wear this apron to hold his nails? Cataract Lumber, got to love it!

My Mother-in-law was a mother, a housewife, a good cook. Did she use the old Kirby at one time to vacuum up after her four children were done playing?

These things and a lot more had stories that went with them. Some the family knew but there were many more we had no idea about. For me, it was interesting, a glimpse into my husband’s life before I knew him. For him, it was a trip down memory lane. Going through all of this stuff generated a lot of conversation between him and his brothers and sister. We spent four days preparing and two and a half days selling all of the stuff that makes a life, a family.

The morning following the sale we received news that my husband’s mother had passed away in her sleep. It was as if she knew we were all here together, the sons from Wisconsin and New York, the daughter from Arizona, the third son only a couple of hours away in Kentucky…and it was time to join her husband. Harold was 89 and Jane was 85 when they died. Here’s to their fine, fruitful and good lives. They will be missed.

Jane and Harold


13 thoughts on “Memories and Goodbyes

  1. Pingback: A year passed…what a coincidence « Another Stir of the Spoon

  2. Such a nice way to in part begin saying goodbye and to celebrate the lives of family and the importance of passing on memories. A wonderful warm loving picture of your parents, Curt. You have had more than your share of empty places but losts of things to recall. I love to see Jeanne and your pics in the posts and would be one of the few things (family) to live back in WI. Much love, Curt. You have a super partner to ehlp pull through all of this. Lovely post Jeanne:):)

  3. What a beautiful post; how exhausted you both must be. The loss is enough, but for some reason, sorting through a life well lived is just so …. tiring isn’t it? I really loved the photo of Jane and Harold at the end of your post; what a handsome couple. They must have been so proud to have so many of you all together at once. My condolences to all of you.


  4. I’m so sorry to hear about your parents, Curt!

    I remember going through my mother’s stuff in a marathon 4-day stretch after she passed away…it was fun, but also a chore! I mailed a great deal of it home to myself, but some of it didn’t survive the trip unscathed…

    Thanks for the story and photos, Jeanne! Our sleds looked a lot like those…


    • It was fun for us because while we were going through all of the stuff and reminiscing, Curt’s mom was in the care center which was really a very wonderful place. I think it was the mental switch of dealing with her stuff to, oh, this is now our stuff. The memorial service went well because family in the area rallied around.

  5. Curt and Jeanne,
    Pam here. Kenn shared this with me, and we are so sorry to hear that you’ve lost your mom, Curt! Wow, that’s alot of loss in a short time span. Jeanne, your descriptive words were a joy to read, about all the stuff that makes a family through a lifetime. That must have been an amazing time together with your siblings, Curt, going through everything – and then to have your mother die so soon afterwards. Much love, prayers, and sympathy to you all,

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