Sunday, April 20, 2014

Blessings Come to Those Who Endure

This week has been very challenging for me and our family, but in the end we received wonderful blessings as we endure to the end. The particular ending for us is my mother's estate probate and especially the removal of her accumulations and collections of almost eighty years. Growing up in the depression and losing almost everything her family had before moving to Oregon, she dearly treasured all her many special items gathered over the years. Her home was not cluttered, but discretely organized so she could enjoy her things.

When our mother remarried after our father's death, her new husband took great pride in the estate he now held with her. Over the next twenty-two years she continued to pay for the taxes and other expenses to the home and property she built with our father. To protect the estate for her four children she wrote a new will a year after this marriage, leaving us the home and all of her personal possessions. In the end we have now received about half of those things.

Some of the most significant things that we received are her journals covering fifteen years and her calendars covering twenty-two years of her life. We are still missing her journal for 2013 and her calendars for 2012 and 2013. They are known to exist for they have been viewed by various family members since her death. The family picture albums provide wonderful memories and make up for the loss of her computer which was destroyed, and the pictures that were only stored there. We received the files of family affairs over the years and many of our mothers personal papers were found in her desk.

We have been able to enter her home four times to remove items of sentimental value for our family and now have possession of many of them. She provided an inventory of her household items and keepsakes that she had before her second marriage. We grew up with these items and are very pleased to keep them within our family. The items kept by her husband were mostly those they purchased and many of them came from garage sales, including a collection of beanie babies and several collections of trains. He kept her bedroom set, kitchen table and chairs, three end tables, a safe, a rocking chair, two wrought iron stands, some lamps, her jewelry cabinet, two wood earring holders that are listed in her original inventory.

Her husband had first choice in everything and repackaged most of her things in boxes before we arrived, so there may be things missing we are unaware of. It is obvious that our mother's finer jewelry, her rings from our father, our parent's guns, a silver tri-fold picture frame from my family, the gumball machine, the old slot machine, her thirty porcelain dolls and about sixty ceramic Christmas houses, many of which she painted for specific families and individuals, are missing. He also admitted to taking her antique hurricane lamp with a rose pattern and her wash stand and pitcher with bowl and promised to return them, but never has.

The items found in the pole barn/shop and red barn have not been accounted for. He has removed many things from these and my two brothers are aware of what is gone. These areas were not really inventoried, but during our third visit everything on the property was photographed and again when we were there this week. It was shocking to return after four months and find that so much was removed, when he had been instructed that nothing was to be removed while we are in probate until I could account for what was taken. The irony is that having gone over his list of sixty-five things that he wanted to take, there was only a short list of about twenty things that we wanted to review and share with him. Of our list of forty things we received all but eighteen.

On this Easter morning we count our blessings for moving along in this process. Surely there are so many things involved in her personal possessions that no one could take everything. Of the items we have, they are to be shared by the extended family. It is with great joy to see the gratitude of those who love our mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. She will forever live on in our lives and having keepsakes from her will be gentle reminders of the great love she has for each one of us. Blessings truly do come to our family as we endure the process of proving her will and honoring her desires in the distribution of her assets. The knowledge that we can someday be together again is the best blessing of all!

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