The whole topic of downsizing must be approached gently, which I can deal with but this non-family business is another matter. I understand how she feels about these gals and it's taken me some time to understand it and to appreciate it and them. I'm grateful that someone else loves my mom and sees that she still has a lot to contribute. These gals are a few years older than I and she met them when they came to her home to clean. Once I realized that they were devoted, trustworthy and generally nice people, I employed them to spend a few extra hours with Mom each week when family members could not be there. I realize the scenario sounds fishy but, trust me, these gals really love my mom and often visited her even without getting paid for it. Now that she's in assisted living, they call and visit; they join her for lunch; they discuss politics and grand kids and just laugh. If my Mom wants them to have something dear, it's because they are dear people to her and I support her wishes.
If it's something that I want for myself I'll take this approach:
- First, I'll ask myself WHY I want it. Is it something to which I've always had an emotional attachment? Did it belong to a grandmother or grandfather?
- Will I use it? Or, will it sit around gathering dust and be in the way?
- Second, I'll think about monetary value. Do I want it to sell for myself or should it be sold to benefit my mom's care? If it's just for MY or another siblings enrichment, then we'd be real stinkers (we're not stinkers but we do raise a little odor now and then. Nobody is perfect) and it will eventtally be sold to benefit Mom because THAT is the right thing to do.
- Is it something that my Dad gave Mom out of love like a wedding band or anniversary gift?
- Is it something that I'm sure a brother or niece, nephew, grandchild might want?
So - what about family? That's the tough part. Past personality conflicts come back; grudges take hold; greed and that sense of entitlement creep in. One child wants everything; another wants to exclude one sibling or one or more kids or grandkids wants things only to sell for cash. This is exactly why it's important to write things down. Several years ago Mom taped notes under or inside many things identifying who should get what. We are discussing this in detail now. She expected to be gone by the time we had to use her notes but having them helps. Surprisingly she's not changed her mind. And, she is less concerned about hurting someone's feelings if they don't agree with her. After asking for a turn-of-the century mantle clock; she told my brother very directly, "No, that goes to (Grandaughter). You are not careful enough and it will get destroyed." She told him to take some large old family portraits instead. He seemed satisfied but I wonder if he'll make his daughter feel bad over the clock. If so, I'll tell her that it's what Grandma wants so don't give in and give it up.