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To feel conflicted about inherited stuff?

(20 Posts)
lizzieoak Sat 25-Mar-17 17:05:06

Not sure what to do here. When we were kids my best friend's mum was a SAHM & my mum was not, so I spent a lot of time in their house. It felt very safe & cosy compared to the slight warzone that was my parents' marriage. It was a second home, though granted not my actual home.

Fast forward 50 years (we've been friends since toddlerhood) & her remaining parent dies. Neither she nor her siblings like her parents' taste (loads of Edwardian & Victorian knickknacks, books, silver, that sort of thing).

Sibs swoop in & start madly throwing everything out. Nothing goes to charity, into the skip it goes. My dear friend has always been easily bullied by her sibs. A few bits and bobs and some of the furniture go to auction. Early in the binning process my friend calls me to say "take anything out of the skip that you want". I take a couple of carloads. I also purchase about 3 boxes of china, vases, & silver from the auction. Her sibs were fine w me taking stuff for free & said they were glad someone liked it as they thought it was awful (it's not).

Problem being that when my friend comes over she'll now say "I wish we'd kept more" in a sad voice. I suspect I'm meant to hand stuff back. She's got no idea what I paid for & what I dug out of the skip.

I don't want to be cruel, but I know she's got a habit of chucking stuff when her tastes move on. I don't, my taste is stuck in Friend's Mum's House, circa 1968.

What to do? It's not worth losing the friendship over (not that she'd do that), but is there a middle road? At the time I did try insisting that they slow done and consider more. Tried to talk her into keeping specific pieces that I now treasure. I'm very grateful, but would like to keep the things ...

Justanothernameonthepage Sat 25-Mar-17 17:09:31

Hmmm is there anything like a vase? My DH picked up a vase from his DGM estate and every time we use it we think of her. Might be a nice gesture to give it to her filled with flowers (especially as it's mother's day tomorrow) Otherwise unless you love every single piece, then is there nothing you can gift back to her?

namechange20050 Sat 25-Mar-17 17:10:26

Is there one thing in particular that she's expressed an interest in? Maybe that could be a middle ground? It's a really hard situation! Certainly wouldn't be giving any of the stuff back that you bought in the auction.

Electrolens Sat 25-Mar-17 18:31:13

I wouldn't give back anything I bought at auction but surely if you took two carloads there are one or two items you could now pass on to your friend - she would appreciate it and appreciate you saving them. I think Just's idea is a lovely one!

lizzieoak Sat 25-Mar-17 21:24:08

Going out, but quickly adding that it was mostly books plus one old chair. She doesn't want either of those back. Her interest seems fairly without direction so far ...

gleam Sat 25-Mar-17 21:37:39

So even if you gave her something, there's no guarantee that she wouldn't chuck it out again in future?

rainbowsockstoday Sat 25-Mar-17 21:43:56

It was pretty rash to throw stuff out by her siblings just because they didn't like it. Is there ANYTHING little that is "her mum" in a trinket? I have one of my grandmothers brass bells. It's worth absolutely nothing to anyone but growing up she would hide a smartie under it on a morning when I slept over. It's all I ever wanted from her after she died.

If it's something that holds sentiment she can always put it away safe so where when her mood changes again. Sorry not much help I know xx

EnormousTiger Sat 25-Mar-17 22:22:57

I would just make sure you give her nothing. She can always have a look at a few things in your house if she wants.

We found it very hard to decide what to keep from our late parents' house. We had quite a few trips there alone and as a group of siblings. Nothing was worth anything which I suppose made it easier. I had loads of family photos scanned by a company so we could all have those. I took a few books - I didn't want too many but I have my parents' university/college text books from the 1940s/50s and some of their other books. However I have since got rid of a few things I took from the house as not wanted - not used or looked at for 10 years. I got rid of all the jewellery recently to the charity shop - nothing worth anything and none of it sentimentally wanted so it went and it was qutie a relief.

We also paid for a company to do the house clearance, once we'd taken by variuos van hire trips what we wanted. They said they have 7 tonnes to take and most houses are half that! We let my father's carers in before that to take anything left they wanted and we let the people buying the house round on the day of the clearance again to keep anything they might have wanted.

We've found recently that taking a photo you store and name can be just as good as keeping physical stuff you will never use - if you just want the memory of it. I did that recently with some jigsaw puzzles I last put together when I was about 4 years old and haven't used since - decided why keep them, no one will ever use them, no resale value - so off to the charity shop but I kept a photo.

lazyarse123 Sat 25-Mar-17 22:35:31

It's a shame when people clear things out without thinking,but please don't let her guilt you into giving her something that you obviously treasure. I remember when my mum died i kept all her knitting patterns, needles and wool husband thought i was mad as i can't knit.But after 6 months i felt able to give them to charity but at the time they meant such a lot to me.

HeddaGarbled Sat 25-Mar-17 22:40:57

I think you should ask her if there is something in particular which she would like and then give a few things to her even if they are things that you paid for. She's your friend and, as you say, she was bullied into it by her siblings. But once you've done that, don't be guilt tripped into giving any more.

lizzieoak Sat 25-Mar-17 23:37:55

Gleam, yes, zero guarantee she'd keep anything I give her. Or offer it back rather than toss it. She is peeved they did not donate anything, just threw away loads of kitchen things, books, furniture.

Some things were worth a bit & they went to auction, but other things which are collectable (old Middle Eastern copper ware, vintage Penguins) were tossed and we couldn't get everything out of the skip.

Added to my conundrum is that my grandparents had similar stuff so she'll sometimes look sadly at my family stuff and ask if it was theirs and not entirely believe me when I say no! We're very close, but it's a bit weird at times.

I'm not even sure they kept the family bible (w record of over 100 years of christenings), a gorgeous sepia portrait of their gran, nor the silverware w the great grandparents initials on. Barmy to me as I'm a frustrated antique shop owner (have no knowledge nor capital, but dream job). In reaction to all the Edwardian style, she and her sibs all have ultra-modern taste & are not into it at all. I think she just feels odd that they're not treasuring stuff that the parents treasured.

PhaedrusRising Sat 25-Mar-17 23:54:03

She's pining for her mum, wants a keepsake.

Grief makes people do funny things sometimes. When my mum died, there were lots of things I couldn't bear to look at at first, made me burst into tears. Now the grief has mellowed with time, it's easier. So she might have found it heart breaking at first, but comforting now.

IMO, it'd be a bit harsh not to give her at least something. She did say "come over and help yourself from the skip" which she didn't need to do, so there is precedent for generosity within the relationship.

PhaedrusRising Sat 25-Mar-17 23:55:08

Just to add though, I would have a talk with her about her feelings about her mum, and subtly work in the importance of keeping keepsakes.

lizzieoak Sun 26-Mar-17 02:24:19

Oh ya, she's got a heart of gold for sure. And they all felt some level of discomfort w throwing away stuff that their parents had treasured. She did end up keeping a few of the things, some surprised me and some were more obvious.

Not sure if it's relevant, but she doesn't have kids so there will be no-one to pass things onto (thus far her sibs' kids seem very disinterested & are all well into adulthood, some w families).

I'm a bit worried about stuff ending up thrown out or given to charity, when I love it and know its history (& some of it is from her family's time in colonial India). I don't like the idea of strangers having dear old Mr & Mrs' stuff. Also a bit worried she'll suddenly want all of it back & it'd be a bit tricky to disentangle what was in the skip and what was at the auction.

She even said "oh, that silver cup was dad's cricket trophy" & I had to say "no, it was my gran's poetry contest winning cup" & show her my family name. I want her to know she's been generous, but at the same time know I do purchase and inherit my own stuff too.

Sweets101 Sun 26-Mar-17 02:27:48

Maybe she just feels sad and nostalgic... And dare I say a bit guilty. Hang on to it, she can always visit then at least

Sweets101 Sun 26-Mar-17 02:29:08

Isn't it funny how we all care so much about our DC, but our parents stuff is fit for the tip

MitzyLeFrouf Sun 26-Mar-17 03:02:42

I'm just amazed people throw this kind of stuff into a skip without a second thought. It genuinely makes me wince!

lizzieoak Sun 26-Mar-17 03:49:11

Made us wince too (me & my kid). We're all about the old stuff. My parents had terrible taste so I always feel my friend's parents really formed my taste. Partly because old stuff (& stuff from India etc) tends to be of good quality, have a wabi sabi element, and a sense of history, but partly because the learned atmosphere at her house, and the affection between her parents, was more my comfort zone than my own family.

So my emotional attachment to her stuff is nowhere near hers, but it is layered.

But also I just like beautiful old things w a story!

biggles50 Sun 26-Mar-17 10:06:20

Just an idea, but could you get a professional photographer to take a montage of some of the pieces, incorporating a pic of the home they were brought up in, a pic of you and her too or her parents. She's still grieving but a well thought out, framed pic would be a lovely gift. Saw something similar on line and it was lovely, a family didn't want to get rid of grandpa's farmer boiler suits but then had beautiful pics of the gc wearing them out in the fields. They then could let go of the old clothes. Anyway just a thought.

Firesuit Sun 26-Mar-17 10:22:08

I'm not convinced that her saying she wished they'd kept more means she would want it if it were actually offered to her. You can like stuff for any reason, but it's only when the prospect of acquiring it becomes concrete that you consider the downsides, and decide you don't want it after all.

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