When It Is Time to Let Go
I was fourteen when my parents bought a house in town.
The old one on the farm was falling into the dirt cellar, so they had a choice; rebuild or move.
Mom loved her gardens; you read right, gardens! Dad ran a modest sized mixed farm with both grain and cattle.
They were in their early fifties but with me being the last kid at home and apparently not planning to stay on the farm, it came time to decide.
A compromise was reached. April to October on the farm. November to March in town.
It worked, although Mom simply added another garden and lawn on the oversized lot.
Dad had his winter workshop in the garage in addition to the welding shop on the farm.
The cattle and pastureland were sold. Winters could now be devoted to bowling, cards, playing pool, and volunteer activities.
My wife and I did come back ten years later with children in tow and started buying back the family farm but that’s another story.
My parents kept this seasonal home strategy up for about fifteen years at which point urban living was adopted fulltime.
Mom passed a dozen years later, with Dad staying on for about four more until he could no longer live alone and moved into a continuing care facility.
By this time, my brother and sister in law had retired to Vancouver Island and I was working as a Realtor off the farm.
When visiting Dad one day in the nursing home he instructed us to sell the house and disperse the contents as we saw fit except for a few heirlooms he wanted given to specific family members.
Thankfully, big brother and my niece, his oldest daughter, volunteered to clean out the house.
What a job! It took a week. They set aside the dedicated items, then invited the adult grandchildren to take what they wanted.
The rest was either put on the front lawn for free pickup by the community or thrown into a big dumpster parked on the driveway.
They filled the dump truck sized container twice. I had to order a special one just for the metal stored behind the garage.
Who keeps a hundred ice cream pails with lids? Or has three freezers, one of which doesn’t work?
People who lived through the Depression. They learned to keep functional items in case it was needed later.
Admittedly, the inoperable deep freeze had been used by Mom to store hand made quilts, each labelled in clear plastic for the intended recipient.
The other basement freezer had about a five-year supply of fruit and vegetables in it.
No one was going to starve in her house!
As I age, I find many of my clients are going through a similar transition.
It can be a deeply emotional time, and quite challenging for all the stakeholders involved. Mature sellers usually need just a bit more time to think and make decisions.
However, their buyers are often a generation younger and sometimes don’t have the necessary patience.
In almost every family there will be an adult children or grandchild, who for reasons of their own, try to derail the transaction, provide poor advice, or simply add stress to the situation.
Dig deep into their motivation, he or she often will be feeling a sense of loss or unresolved family issues, and it comes out in opposition to Mom or Dad’s wish to make a move while they are still in control.
There have been times when I have had to confront the family member and ask what is motivating their uncooperative behavior.
I have learned, upon preparing to list a property, to ask one of the adult children to act as a pivot point for communication with the extended family as we make the necessary ongoing decisions.
This individual acts as a safety valve, and in some cases, a buffer between the negative individual and those who are trying to be part of the solution. They can rally support as well.
Where it gets difficult is those times no one in the family will step up to help Mom or Dad.
I am sure there are plenty of good reasons for alienation between a parent and child but being too busy with one’s own life isn’t one, in my opinion.
Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through www.vernmcclelland.com or by following the Midwest Group Lloydminster on Facebook.