DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My father and his wife are in the process of downsizing. They have been living in the house where my father grew up and where he moved back to when my grandparents started to have a lot of health problems, around the time he and my mom split up.
My stepmother called me and my brother telling us we should come by the house to take anything they would not be bringing to the new, smaller home they are moving into. My brother said he really was not interested in anything, but I very much wanted to have some of my grandmother’s vintage decorations and small pieces of furniture, including a couple Tiffany-style table lamps and a side table I loved since I was a little kid.
There were also photo albums I used to look at with my grandparents, and they would tell me who everyone was, so someone would remember when they were gone, as they said.
This stuff was always fascinating and important to me, and has gotten more so since I started my own family, and believe having a connection to the past helps us understand where we are in our lives today.
When I got to the house it was almost empty and I found out they had sent most of the old furniture and other things belonging to my grandparents to two different companies that refinish and resell antique furniture. They got a flat fee for everything, including the pieces I wanted. They also put all the photo albums and anything else that they couldn’t sell in the trash.
I was hurt and furious. Those were not just their things to give away. Why did they even tell my brother and me to come and get some things when they had already gotten rid of them?
What they got rid of did NOT just belong to them. I know my grandparents wanted it kept in the family. --- WANTED SOME HEIRLOOMS
DEAR WANTED SOME HEIRLOOMS: I’m wondering if wires were crossed, and what your stepmother meant by her invitation was for you and your brother to go through what was left of your father’s and stepmother’s household items after anything they found useful had been moved along to their new home, including some of your grandparents’ belongings, which I’m guessing were part of your father’s inheritance, and thus his to do with as he saw fit.
I agree with you that it would’ve been right for him and his wife to give you and your brother first pick of your grandparents’ things that he and his wife had no interest in or need of. However, they may have planned on using the proceeds from the sale of the furniture to offset the expense of their move, which is understandable.
The loss of the photo albums is certainly unfortunate, but again, like with the furniture, if you hadn’t made a specific claim to them, your dad and his wife likely assumed no one would care about them.
What’s done is done, and continuing to be angry with them rather than extending them the benefit of the doubt that they meant no offense or harm can only damage your relationship with them moving forward. You need to ask yourself if holding onto your hurt is worth that risk.