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Clearing an Estate? Read “They Left Us Everything”

Today I am reviewing a booked written by Plum Johnson, They Left Us Everything  a memoir. She is a Canadian author from Oakville, Ontario. It is an easy to read , novel style story about her experience emptying her parent’s home.  Once you start reading it you become engaged in the story and can’t put the book down. It takes you on a roller coaster of emotions:  sad, humorous, happy and thoughtful.

Paperback book, They Left Us Everything

by Plum Johnson

Many people have had the experience of going through years of possessions and trying to figure out

  • how to divide things between family members,
  • where to donate things,
  • the division of labour between family members on how the work will get completed and
  • when to sell the home.

This book takes the reader through the many pitfalls and solutions that Plum and her siblings discover to solve these difficult situations.

One of my favourite parts of the book is the chapter on how they divide up their parents’ possessions between the 4 siblings .  Plum has made an annotated inventory list complete with photographs, 422 items, 8 pages long.  There are two categories; one for all the furnishings that have been appraised and priced and one for historical items that were considered priceless. They take turns picking things off the list until everything is gone.  It is very interesting to read the how the process goes, who selects which items and why, and how competitive they can be during this process.

The book has practical suggestions but mostly it gives the reader emotional and psychological insights into the relationships that they have with their parents and that their parents have with each other.  It also shows how these relationships affect how they experience dealing with their parents’ possessions. Learning from their experiences can help each of us to understand the many layers of feelings that affect each of us and our relationships with people and “stuff”

A few memorable thoughts from the book are;

  1. “The most valuable things come from within yourself”
  2. “Are you untangling the stuff in the house or untangling yourself from your parents?”
  3. “Gradually things in the house relinquished their hold on us.”

Post a comment about the part of the book you liked best or a tip to make clearing an estate easier.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

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