Our dear friend Loretta died almost 10 months ago. My wife, Ellie, is Loretta's personal representative, and began working on that responsibility shortly after we buried Loretta. From the beginning, her approach was completely different from what mine would have been
( which, of course, is likely part of the reason Loretta chose Ellie for the role ). Ellie brought a level of creativity and sensitivity to the task I can only dream of. Slow. Deliberate. Understanding everything she was looking at … not just from her point of view but from Loretta’s as well, as best as she was able.
She came across many things: gifts given to Loretta, some of which she returned to the giver as a token reminder of Loretta; photographs, many of which, after determining that Loretta’s Chicago nephew did not want them, and not wanting to take the small risk that they would fall into insensitive hands, she shredded; degrees and certificates of completion, which, along with class notes and the like, she also shredded; and journals in which Loretta had captured life events, from her departure from the Sisters of St Casmir in the mid-seventies, to the murder of her nephew’s half-brother and his mother four decades later.
This, of course, is small potatoes. Loretta also had furniture, kitchenware, clothes, accessories and real-estate. Ellie got in touch with a real-estate agent, who was the agent who had sold the condominium next to Loretta’s the summer that Loretta died and whom the former owner of said condo very much liked working with. Ellie hired an estate-sales company to conduct an estate sale. The real-estate agent had recommended this company.
Ellie moved back home on New Year’s Eve, and the estate sale people held a very successful estate sale in mid-January. Note that ‘very successful’ does not mean they sold everything to the bare walls. There were some pieces of unsold furniture, lots of unsold clothes, closets of ‘stuff,’ miscellaneous kitchenware, and a set or two of dishes. In short, there was still much to do.
A friend who likes cleaning closets and organizing volunteered her services. She helped Ellie with the closets, we took some things home, Ellie hired a cleaning service to ‘mop up’ and Zerorez to clean the carpet. Ellie listed the condo for sale in late March.
Almost immediately she had two offers. She chose the first one, and suddenly she had a closing “by June 02” to get ready for. There were still three large pieces of furniture to deal with. We planned to donate those … nice pieces, but our house was just too full.
The closing date was eventually set to be May 27. A week or so before then, Ellie and I arranged to move the last pieces of furniture; as I turned the key in the lock when leaving, I heard, “That’s very likely the last time you will ever set foot in Loretta’s condo.” I felt weird about that, like something would be missing from my life.
“That’s very likely the last time we’ll ever set foot in Loretta’s,” I said to Ellie as we drove away.
“Hmmm. Eww. You’re right,” she mumbled, as she realized the truth.
On the evening before the scheduled closing, Ellie got a text from her realtor: there is a snag, the closing is likely not going to occur as scheduled. Sure enough, it didn’t and was rescheduled for June 01. That date came, the closing stayed scheduled, I accompanied Ellie to it, and a woman named Joyce is now the proud owner of what was Loretta’s property in West St Paul. A huge milestone in the Loretta Project has occurred. I am OK; Ellie is, too.
Another era closes.
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