July 13, 2023

How to divide up Uncle's valuables? And elderly brothers' mix-up

Remember how I flew to Texas with my hotdog-loving father and Ed in mid May? Then Ed and I drove home from Texas in Uncle's car. This is the car that we, the Shenanigans, now affectionally call 'Tex.' I sure hope there isn't an expiration date on when I have to go to the DMV to get Illinois plates, because AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT.

Well, I do not have time for a visit to the DMV. Life has been ridiculously hectic. I'm hoping to share more on that soon. 

Is it just me? I have SO many thing I want to blog about. I have lists upon lists. Blogging twice a week isn't enough to fit in EVERYTHING. Don't worry, I'm not suggesting that I'm gonna start blogging daily. I misplace my 'need-to-blog-about' lists and then I realize I STILL HAVEN'T SHARED THE SIDEWALK STORY or THE SHOES IN OMAHA story. 

I'm gonna try to catch you all up, but first I have my life-with-Mini series that keeps getting more and more interesting, because that girl . . . well last night she washed her own clothes, per the management. Her white shirt came out of the dryer covered in blue streaks. We decided that she put her load on rinse instead of wash and the shirt was showing detergent. My new washer isn't very complicated. Why is this hard? *this is the 2nd time she did this this summer. 

Nana being silly with
a lace placemat.
Dad asked me to organize the valuables I packed up at Uncle's house in Feb and share the offerings with the family members so we could decided who wanted what. This was AN UNDERTAKING. Mini and I tackled it. 

In early June we ran over to my folks' basement where I'd previously unloaded the boxes. Mini took a million photos, OK about 100. I cataloged the items. In my spare time, I typed up a word doc with descriptions and labels like 'AI' and created a corresponding photo guide. 


Ed suggested that each grandkid (after the adult siblings choose anything, which probably won't be much because we have crystal and china, etc.) get so many tokens or tickets. If a person really wanted the Waterford crystal, then he/she would maybe put all of his/her tokens in for that collection. Then if there were items requested by more than one cousin, we would draw numbers or determine that the large collection be handed out one per family, etc. 

It's complicated, at least I think it is. 

I emailed my siblings and asked them for input. Did they like this distribution idea, or did they have a better idea? 

This was an unintentional
 photo of Mini while
our silver department.

Marie came in town and stayed with my folks for a few days. She does this from time to time. She texted yesterday to say that she'd visited my folks' basement and that she'd like a set of the everyday dishes unless a recent college grad wanted them. In which case, she'd buy her own new dishes. 

Ann shared that her two sons who are out of college wanted a few things. One wanted a set of glasses - either the blue ones, or the Waterford champagne, or some other glasses. The other son wants a few whiskey glasses. 

Both sisters 'shopped' in the basement, which is totally fine - so long as we ignore the fact that I want to jump off a cliff for the amount of time I spent creating the catalog of items. 

Their requests are fine and reasonable. Mini wants the fine china though and most kids haven't even looked at the photos, don't live nearby to 'shop' in the basement. There are 11 granddaughters in total (and 11 grandsons). What happens when more kids want the same things? I was hoping to create a system that eliminated as many hard feelings or weird hierarchies as possible. 

Now what? 

Should I request that they stop sharing what each kid wants, because that might get a little tricky? I was trying to steer clear of people calling out 'DIBBS.'

Marie suggested we all just get together and hash it out. That sounds awkward and challenging. Is it me? 

How would you go about this? Have you gone about this? When my folks pass away they will have a detailed will. Uncle didn't have these valuables listed in his will.  

I'll leave you with a funny story from when we moved Uncle up to Chicago:

A few hours after Ed and I had started driving Tex home, Pat texted that the dinner at the neighbors' was great, but that Uncle Marty was starting to come unglued. Wondering if he should be moving or staying near his friends. He was a ball of emotions. I felt bad for leaving before we'd planned, but Dad had practically chased us out. Also, once the moving van left and Aunt's ashes had been located, Uncle seemed to perk up and he appeared relaxed. 

Then Pat texted asking Ed if he'd seen Dad's fleece pullover. Ed reached around and dug thru his bag. He'd shared a guest room with Dad. He didn't have it. This was a mystery. I'd gotten Dad this fleece for Christmas. I told Pat to tell him that if it didn't turn up, I'd order another one on Amazon. 

The next morning, Pat corralled the two elderly brothers to the airport. Suddenly Dad looked at Mart and said:  HEY, MARTY. IS THAT MY FLEECE YOU'RE WEARING? WAIT A MINUTE . . . IS THAT MY SHIRT TOO?

When Dad undressed and dropped his clothe near the bed in the guest room, one of the nurses/helpers, who showed up now and then, must've picked Dad's clothes up  after all the guest room furniture was loaded on the truck. This was the one room of furniture that went with Uncle. She laid the clothes on Uncle's bed in the master bedroom on the other side of the house, assuming they belonged to Uncle. Uncle woke up and got dressed in the clothes that he assumed someone had laid out for him.

Pat was cracking up at the exchange. Uncle Marty turned to Pat and said:  AREN'T YOU GLAD THERE ARE ONLY TWO BROTHERS? 

Please share any valuable dividing suggestions in the comments. Is anyone surprised that my sisters have ignored my suggestion of adopting a uniform system for this? I, personally, can hear them twittering:  WHAT? THAT'S DUMB. WE CAN ALL JUST DECIDE. Well, OK - but then my kid is getting the fine china. My boys will take the German beer steins. 


mbmom11 said...

Your plan is amazing ; it's a good way to do fair division. It's too bad no one wants to cooperate. I'd say make sure every person at your generation ( siblings or cousins ) gets to pick one thing first and them do your plan. Note that lots of younger people may not want anything - minimalism is big right now. And at a certain point, if they snooze, they lose! Make sure you put a deadline for requests. Otherwise it'll drag out forever.

Nicole said...

I'd say that you should just let the grandkids themselves take a peek and decide, and if more than one wants the same thing, well, they can figure it out. I'm at the point in packing where I think "it's just STUFF" so I might be a little shruggy about it!

Beth Cotell said...

This all sounds very nightmarish! Good luck with this!!! And I for one, would not be upset if you blogged every day.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I LOL'd at Marty and Dad's wardrobe swap! Too funny...this is the stuff of a good Sitcom.

I think you had a great idea and I hope you don't jump off a cliff because no one follows the rules. All that work and no one can follow a simple direction or suggestion?

I've never had to divvy anything up...I kind of wish I did so I didn't have it all. ;)

Kara said...

Post-its? Maybe? A bunch of different colored Post-its, and everyone tags what they're interested in. Things with only one Post-it goes to that person. Things with multiple Post-its get discussed.

Kari said...

I agree with Nicole in the "it's just stuff" category. I understand that some people place sentimental value on objects, and I have some myself, but for the most part, I believe that stuff is just stuff. I say let your entire family loose on the collectibles, and it could turn into a badass version of WWE or American Gladiators. I would pay to see Marie and Ann fight each other over china.😊

Ernie said...

mbmom11 - Thanks. I thought it was a pretty solid plan - most of it was the brain child of Ed. I think putting an end date on it is brilliant. I'm pretty frustrated that my sisters decided to ignore my suggestions and just power thru with their WE'RE JUST DOING THIS. They apparently each took a crystal angel. They said there were 5 of them, so we can each have one - but yet they already chose theirs. Now, trust me here - I'm not really interested in a Waterford angel persay, but I do think their approach speaks volumes. I know when my dad sent me on the mission to pack all of Uncle's things, Ann tried to say that no one would want the Waterford because young people nowadays don't buy it. Still, there might be a cousin that might want it.

There are no cousins in our generation - just the 5 kids in my family. My dad and his brother were the only ones and Uncle's kids have all passed away.

Ernie said...

Nicole - There are 5 grandkids that live out of state - Philie and Seattle are the farthest distance. I thought the write up about each item and the coordinating photos would help with people who are far away making their selections. I don't really want anymore stuff, but there are quite a few grandkids who are just starting out. Leave it to my sisters to decide to be passive aggressive and decide to do it their way.

Ernie said...

Beth - It feels sort of nightmarish in that I SPENT A LOT OF TIME ORGANIZING THIS DISTRIBUTION LIST, UNPAKCING THINGS, CATALOGING WHAT WAS BROKEN IN THE MOVE, ETC. Like this took me hours . . . all because my dad requested that I do something. If I just said SHOW UP AND TAKE WHAT YOU WANT, then my sisters would've been upset. They both have kids living in far flung distant cities. It is pretty aggravating that after all of my work, no one cares. I REALLY don't have time to waste at the moment.

By the way, your comment aobut being happy if I wrote every day made my flipping day. You are too kind.

Ernie said...

Suz - My brother Pat has a good sense of humor, so the texts and corresponding photos of the two brothers in the wrong clothes was pretty entertaining. Ed and I got a lot of chuckles about it as we drove along.

I really cannot believe that my sisters are behaving in such a passive aggressive way. Their decision to thwart my system is pretty unreal. I cannot beieve how many hours I lost on this goofy project. All because I was trying to be fair. I should've known that fair really isn't valued in our family. I haven't heard from either brother. I guess I'll just text in the group chat and let them know that Mini is taking the china and Curly the Waterford. My dad asked me to handle this, but I had no direction. I thought giving everyone an opportunity made sense without having people duke it out.

I think my dad feels similarly - "have everyone come get this stuff out of my basement." ;)

Ernie said...

Kara - I like the post-it idea. The thing is several of the kids are out of state - some of them really far away. The other thing is - my parents' basement is only so big, so the things are not really on display. We took photos and then shoved them back in boxes, or under tables, or somewhere else hard to see. I think that your idea is generally the same as Ed's though - but just done remotely.

Ernie said...

Kari - Yep, it is stuff- but when a new grad is just starting out, having a set of everyday dishes (there are 2 full sets, very high end) or a set of glasses or a set of wine glasses can be oh so sweet.

I do like the idea of getting a wrestle-mania vibe going.

Jenny in WV said...

I lucked out in that my grandparents did not have many descendants so I was able to get everything I wanted from their home. My favorite item is a 1960's Jr. High Home Ec textbook. I also have their china, but it is stored in a closet at my parents house. I don't have a formal dining room with space for a China cabinet.
It sounds like you did a great job of organizing the items and I think your plan for diving them up is as good as any.

I didn't get to comment on your last post, but I'm sorry about your rolling pin. My dog has chewed a variety of items over the years and while a few were somewhat expensive to replace, nothing lost was sentimental.

Pat Birnie said...

This is a LOT with so many people. And some that just go rogue. I went through this when my mom died suddenly (our dad had died 10 years earlier). There were 5 kids and we are super agreeable so we went through her place, and one at a time put a post it with our name on things we wanted. There wasn't a lot of value, a bit of jewelry that was sentimental. If our kids wanted the odd thing they got it, but most went to donation. The sweetest thing was when were were going through her dresser we found a note starting with "My dear children, if you are reading this that means I'm gone...she mentioned a few pieces that each of us had admired -- for example I loved her opal ring, my brother, the only boy got my dad's wedding ring, etc. It was the best. I feel bad with you when there are a lot of high value items and an lot of people. I agree with many other commenters, it's just stuff and our next generation isn't always that sentimental. Good luck

Ernie said...

Jenny - I got a pig shaped blue cutting board from one of my grandma's and I have it on display in a lighted cabinet in my kitchen. I have blue accents in my kitchen and I love it. Fortunately it was too high for Finn to gnaw on it. RIP the rolling pin.

I'm glad that you did not have to fight off anyone for the items you wanted from your grandparents. My kids are being silly and suggesting that they wait to see what each cousin wants and then they (in a fake bossy, obnoxious voice) will say WAIT, I WANT THAT. I live with a bunch of comedians. ;)

Ernie said...

Pat - I'm so sorry that your mom passed away so suddenly. That's so sad. I love that she left her children a sweet note. What a touching thing to have done. She sounds like an organized thoughtful person.

I don't get the going rogue thing over here. I just don't. My guess is that they think I gathered too much stuff from Uncle's house, but I thought with our large family- that the growing-up kids would benefit. My dad wanted all of the valuable things brought here, but it was hard to know where to draw the line. There was a lot. I'm at a loss as to how to proceed. So far they aren't asking for a ton for their kids, but Marie hasn't even asked her kids if they want anything. No clue what to do.

Bijoux said...

It’s difficult. My in-laws told the 5 kids to take whatever they wanted while they were alive. My husband thought that was morbid and refused to take anything. I think his brother felt the same, but the sisters took a lot. When my FIL was gone and my MILwent to a memory care facility, the house was put on the market and we were told to stop by and get any of the ‘leftovers.’ We have a few random items and I was able to get two vases I had bought my MIL in the 1980’s when I worked for a department store. Not much of value, but more keepsakes.

I like your idea! My oldest daughter refuses anything I try to give her because their house can’t hold anymore stuff. Middle Child will always live with us. My son is the sentimental one and does like to receive things, so that’s been helpful while cleaning out my mom’s basement.

Ernie said...

Bijoux - Oh no, I feel sad about how your in laws belongings were distributed. I wish everyone would have agreed to wait, until everyone was prepared. I saw my folks tonight and my dad told me to go along with my plan. I will alert my siblings of my Aug 1st deadline and that we will be moving forward with my system. It's gonna get interesting. I'm guessing my basement will become a storage facility for anything my kids want.

Bibliomama said...

That sounds like a head-blowing nightmare, honestly - dividing up the stuff, I mean. Too many people. Your system probably would have made more sense. My husband's paternal grandmother and her three sisters built four cottages in a row in Muskoka - which was all fine and dandy with four families, but as the cottages were handed down to more and more people, things got more and more difficult and contentious - there were threats and nervous breakdowns involved.

Ernie said...

Ali - It really is a nightmare. I told my dad that my sisters were just claiming a few things here and there and I pointed out how MUCH time I'd spent on the list and photos and my dad agreed - he ruled that my system will be the one we use to divide everything.

I know a family with a cottage and 4 daughers. The mom will not be leaving it to them in the will - she's selling it in order to avoid any fights. I believe it with the threats and breakdowns.