The hardest thing I have had to do in my life.

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Holman Premier Realty

This may be a little raw and emotional, but I felt compelled to post it today.

I am 44 years old, I have been through some things.  I have watched loved ones die, I have worked in the prison system where I was sent out to deal with riots or hostage situation.  But recently, I have had to deal with the hardest thing I have had to do.

There is a long series of events that brings me to this point, but for the past couple months, I have been dealing with the only home my parents have ever owned.

When I got the call that mom had a terminal diagnosis and mom (who had a brain tumor that was not operable or treatable) and dad (who has Alzheimers and depended on mom for everything) had been moved from their home of almost 60 years to a nursing home, I booked a flight from Oregon to their area in Pennsylvania.

It was back and forth to the nursing home to see mom, then to the house to deal with the almost 60 years of accumulation of stuff.   Do people really need receipts from the 50's and 60's?  My vote is no.   But that is a moot point.  My sister and I spent the two weeks I was back in PA at my parents house weeding through scores of stuff.  Attics, basement, stuff packed in boxes for years!  We called a garbage hauler to take away the stuff, broken things, old stuff, things that should have been pitched years ago, and he weighed out at almost a ton (literally) of disposed items.  A bunch of decent stuff we took to mom's favorite church, the Girard United Methodist Church, for their annual rummage sale. 

Then I got the news that mom was stable, could go on for a month or two like this, and I flew back to Oregon.  She took a turn for the worse a short time later and passed away.  I booked a flight for us to stay in PA about a month.  My husband thought this would be a slam dunk, but I knew better.  When we arrived, Dad could not process her loss due to the Alzheimer's.  What a cruel disease this is.  The funeral was especially hard when Dad would blurt out "How'd she die?" or "Where's your mother?" from time to time.

Once we settled in to 60 years worth of accumulation that had already been scrounged over to purge the stuff, we got going.  We searched the internet for value on some of the things in the house, then ran a "speculation" group on ebay, stuff we could find very little information on, and it fell flat on its face.  Then we had some "garage sales" that were tough on me.  People picking through things my parents treasured, trying to get less than the bargain price we had already put on it.  Hard.   We sold some other items on ebay, packed a large box to ship back to Oregon by freight, and shipped several boxes of stuff by UPS.  But going through that huge accumulation of just things took its toll on me.  What do you do with tons of IBEW (international brotherhood of electrical workers) mugs??? How about that rolling pin that grampa made 100 years ago?  The collection of small plates mom loved?  The Haeger doves she had in her curio?  It goes on and on. 

The day I had the Realtor over to list the house for sale, I cried after he left.  Rob is a fantastic guy, so much better than what I experienced on line. The first Realtor I contacted about listing my family home simply sent me a referral form, how cold.   The second sent me a CMA and a referral form, not much better.  I contacted the floor agent at the same franchise I work for, she seemed nice, but had zero follow through, not what I had in mind.  So, I walked in, rolled the dice, and ended up with Rob McGee.  He has been great so far, I suspect this transaction is safe in his hands.  So much more compassionate and understanding of the situation, makes me mindful of the way I need to handle these transaction. 

But wading through years of their accumulation, all these treasures they prized,

Tonight is our last night here, tomorrow we fly back to Oregon.  I sat in my old bedroom tonight and cried, it is the last time I will see it as my parents made it for me.

I thought I was going to be strong through this, but this is absolutely the hardest thing I have had to do in my life.  I will be so cognizant of clients facing the same circumstances, and treat them with the respect that the transaction deserves.  And God bless my husband, he just opens his arms. 

David Zablatsky
Avant Realty Group - Needham, MA
Real Estate - Needham, MA



Thank you for posting and sharing. wish you all the best!


Dec 12, 2009 03:32 PM
Frank Kliewer
Woodinville, WA

Darlene, Many Blessings to you as you go through this difficult time. It is good you found someone with compassion to help . . . a good lesson to all of us on how we should be with others. Take care.

Dec 12, 2009 03:38 PM
Linda DeRusha
Coldwell Banker Advantage - Garner, NC
Broker/Realtor, ABR,ASP,CDPE


Thank you for your very touching post tonight. I am so sorry that you are going through such a difficult time getting your family home ready to sell. You are showing us very clearly the way things look from the seller's point of view. I will remember this the next time I go to list a house--it's not just a house--it was someone's home.

Darlene, I appreciate your honesty and that you are being so open with your feelings. I am sorry for your loss.


Dec 12, 2009 03:55 PM
Samson Properties - Bowie, MD
I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES

I am sheding tears of joy for you Darlene. I don't know what you are going through,I can only imagine. One if not the hardest thing we all will experience in life is the death of a love one. Your Mom is not here anymore but she is in a much better place than here. Like my pastor once said "I have never met a person who has been to heaven and want to come back down here. While I know you miss her very much,just remember she is FREE OF ANY DISEASE,PAIN OR SUFFERING. And most importantly,she is God's hand now-The best caretaker ever. And you will meet her again in Heaven.

I am sure she is looking down on you from heaven so proud of her beautiful daughter and anxious to see the great things God has in store for you. You said that Do people really need receipts from the 50's and 60's?  My vote is no.-That was funny to me. But you said that "I thought I was going to be strong through this, but this is absolutely the hardest thing I have had to do in my life." You seem strong to me. I don't know too many people that can do anything dealing with a loss and yet you was able to write this blog.

May the Lord continue to strengthen you and your family during this time of mourning.  God bless your husband too for opening his arms out to your and supporting you. Sorry for saying too much. God bless you. May prayers to you and your family. Stay strong. Be blessed.

Dec 12, 2009 03:59 PM
Sandy Wagner
RE/MAX Professionals 253.225.8322 - Gig Harbor, WA
Short Sale Specialist Tacoma, WA, and Gig Harbor,

Darlene, I'm so sorry you have had to go through this. I'm also glad you shared it here as there may be others feeling the pain you are feeling right now. I will send lots of healing thoughts your way and pray for all your family.

Dec 12, 2009 04:27 PM
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes

You and your family are in our thoughts -- all the best during this difficult time.

Dec 12, 2009 05:07 PM
Dan Tabit
Keller Williams Bellevue - Sammamish, WA

Darlene, Thanks for sharing and allowing others to share your burden.  I lost my mom in 2008 and am still processing that.  Its a tough transition, you will be in my prayers.

Dec 12, 2009 06:19 PM
Guy Thomas
WR Starkey Mortgage - Colorado Springs, CO

Darlene, it seems those changes which shake the bedrock of how we are used to life being are the toughest to come to terms with. This must be terriblyl difficult to spend time in you childhood home with all these changes going on. We are with you in your time of trial.

Dec 13, 2009 10:48 AM
Darlene Humphreys
Coldwell Banker Holman Premier Realty - Klamath Falls, OR
I love my job!

Thank you for your wonderful comments.

It will continue to be a struggle for awhile, but we have such good memories.

Dec 13, 2009 06:36 PM
Dick and Dixie Sells
Sells Real Estate, LLC - Trinity, FL
Realtors, Tampa Bay Florida Homes For Sale

Darlene- I have had to do that twice, my folks and Dick's folks. The rolling pin hit a spot with me. My grandfather's hand made sits in my kitchen at a point of honor. I know telling you time will soften, time will somewhat heal and you can smile and remember the fun, the smiles and the lessons might not work right now. But with God's grace, that day will come. 


Dec 15, 2009 10:52 PM
Mary Douglas
United Country Ponderosa Realty, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado - Red Feather Lakes, CO
REALTOR, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

Darlene, I read about your post at Lanre's blog.  There are no words that can even begin to help you through all of this.  Your post brought tears to my eyes and I am so sorry for the loss of your mother and your father's illness.  I hope your days will be brighter. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.  Best wishes and God Bless.

Dec 16, 2009 07:05 AM
Darlene Humphreys
Coldwell Banker Holman Premier Realty - Klamath Falls, OR
I love my job!

Thanks Dixie and Mary.  It means alot.

Dec 16, 2009 08:16 AM
Mary Yonkers
Alan Kells School of Real Estate/Howard Hanna Real Estate - Erie, PA
Erie/PA Real Estate Instructor

Darlene--By now you are back in OR, but I know your thoughts and heart are still here in PA.

I came to your post via Lanre, but I wish I had met you much earlier.  I probably live ten miles from your parents in Fairview and would have loved to meet you.  I have been going through similar things with my mother who still lives in the home we grew up in Oil City, PA.  Like you I have a wonderful husband to lean on.  Thanks for sharing.


Dec 17, 2009 06:45 AM
Darlene Humphreys
Coldwell Banker Holman Premier Realty - Klamath Falls, OR
I love my job!

Thanks Mary.  I wish I had the chance to meet you as well, perhaps we will get the opportunity down the road.  I am dealing with things as they come, the best way I can.

Dec 17, 2009 10:30 AM
Darlene Humphreys
Coldwell Banker Holman Premier Realty - Klamath Falls, OR
I love my job!

Someone just sent me something that hit home.  In our business, sometimes it isn't "just a house" and we have to be cognizant of the place our sellers may be in.   Thanks Jim, timely words. 

Dec 17, 2009 10:35 AM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate (435) 632-9374 - St. George, UT
The best agent in Southern Utah!

Darlene, Lanre sent me here to your blog. This would be so very difficult to go through, someone's entire lifetime, especially parents. May you gain strength from your family and friends.

Dec 18, 2009 12:43 AM
Victoria CB Trees
Victoria CB Trees Real Estate Services - Chiloquin, OR
Principal Broker

Hey Lady!  Look who I found on Active Rain... (you!). 

I had to go through that with my mom in 2003, but it was only up to Bremerton, not across the country.  It still is raw at times, but it does get better.  I will have to go back for my dad yet.  He tried to make it happen last week (tirple by-pass), but the onery old coot survived it.  Yippee!



Feb 17, 2010 02:45 PM