We spent today at our new vacation house, in my hometown. That's how we are referring to my mother's former house. Its the vacation house in north central Ohio that we never thought we wanted.
We installed a programmable thermostat because we keep forgetting to slip the temperature back after we visit and turn up the furnance because the house is COLD. So now, when we walk in the door, we can turn it up to 68 degrees and then after four hours it will slide back to 64 degrees, automagically.
We also replaced a light fixture because whenever we turned on the old one we smelled something "hot" in the electrical sense. In doing so, we discovered that the cheaper the light fixture, the more Fiberglas they use in the insulation, and the more fiber glass you have to fuss with, the more you get on yourself. No fun.
The other thing that we did was continue to go through the house and gather up the last of the paperwork that we can find.
My mother was a neat person, but she did save everything. Her house is uncluttered, but we have found 10 or so shopping bags of old bills and old statements. Or so we thought.
In fact, she had a habit of saving old statements, and old window envelopes, onto which she would write these cryptic notes: And thats pretty much what filled those shopping bags - empty envelopes with frantic notes in her hand writing:
- SAVE!!!! Stock purchase!!!
- KEEP!!! Marriage license!!!
- HOLD ON TO!!!
- DON'T THROW OUT!!!
Its the "Hold On To" and SAVE!!!! envelopes that scare me because we have no idea what stock she bought, sold, or lost, and we haven't the foggiest idea what it is that we're not to let go of, because envelope's are almost always empty. Thus we are throwing out a lot of stuff that says we shouldn't be doing exactly what we are doing - but thats all it says.
Of course the child of a friend asked if Mom could have left account numbers on the enevlopes using invisiable ink. I suppossed that is a slight possibility, but she would have most certainly written in ball point pen INVISIBLE INK.
We have found 27 copies of her marriage certificate to my stepfather, one copy of the second divorce decree from my father, and nothing regarding the man she was married to in the early 1950s.
We have also found an inordinately high number of snap shots taken of my step-father, shirtless. My mother was not a visual woman - she thought men looked silly without a shirt. I think that some men are quite fetching without their shirts on, unfortunately, the one I see anymore should have their shirts on. This includes my step father. What bothers me about these pictures is that I feel that they are in some way intimate, even though its just step-dad standing on the beach at Sanibel Island with his shirt off.
Anyway, I spent the past ten days sorting through the paperwork. We have thrown out six 30 gallon trash bags of envelopes (all searched) and mail that has no identifying features, and we have half of one paper box full of things to shred.
I also regret to inform you all that there were no unexpected windfalls - no maps to buried treasure. We did find her lotto betting card from 1985, the year she guessed six out of six numbers and split a lotto jackpot with five other people. Now before anyone thinks that I stinking rich from this, guess again - it pretty much paid for her retirement. And besides, since I maintain the family "kennel papers" I know who is related me, and who isn't. There are no unknown heirs out there and I wasn't born yesterday. Send me an email telling me that you are my long lost brother Farouk from Nigeria (or West Virginia) and I'll shit all over it.
As Executor, I will now sort and file the materials that apply to 2010 so I can hand them off to the account to do the taxes for her.
Not how I planned on spending my December. Cheers to all of you, I'm going back to the paper work. Bah!