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Initial Cleaning Begins

I can’t help but stare.  I’ve never been in an estate before where I am looking at my own life.  I am usually looking at the lives of others.  Cleaning out this estate is interesting because I am looking into the faces of people I know.

The initial cleaning for an estate saleInitial cleaning is a commonly known estate liquidation process.  It seems like an injustice to the client to skip this part of the business, yet, it is skipped a lot.

Most clients believe their houses are clean enough, but not so to a liquidator!  You see, when furniture is sold, it has to be removed from the house.  That will leave a telltale sign of uncleaned areas that a house owner doesn’t think about.

When furniture is bought and moved out, the dirt is exposed for all the public to see.

This is one reason we do an initial cleaning.  It’s more than just cleaning.  We sort, categorize, move, clean, move something again, pick things up, take them elsewhere, and the cycle keeps going until the entire property has been conquered.

Cleaning an estate.

The main goals of the initial cleaning are to:

  • Clean…that’s a given!
  • Find treasures.
  • Remove trash and broken items that can’t be sold.
  • Remove personal items, such as photos, medicines and items being kept by the family.
  • Sort things into values, such as removing 25 cent, 50 cent and $1 items that need to go elsewhere.  The more clutter that can be taken from a room, the easier it is to clean.
  • Once the clutter is removed, getting the content ready to stage is priority.

Detached from stuff.

It is very easy to clean and stage a stranger’s house.  Nothing holds a memory for me, except the occasional item found that I might have once had when I was a child.  Those things bring back memories.

Never before had I worked an estate where there are memories that directly apply to me.  That is, until now.

Sort, scrap, keep, toss, next!  It’s second nature to me and I like it.  I like being comfortable with what I do, but this is different.

Sort…stare…hold my breath.  Stare some more.  I should be working but I have to sit down and stare.  This is a picture I had not seen before, but I know about it.  I know because I was there.


Time goes by so quickly.

I am the tallest one standing in the back, to the right by the canopy.  I am there with my siblings, cousins and Mommy Jean.

Staring into the faces of yesteryear makes me fight the tears I have held back.  We are all scattered now across the country and I am guessing either my dad or grandpa is taking this picture.  Neither of them are with us any more.

Life changes people.

I wish I knew what was going through my mind in this picture so I could capture it in my heart and remember what life was like before I took the career path I took shortly out of high school.  Life would have been different for me.

Still, I have to press on.  One photo after another in this estate reminds me that this is not a typical estate sale in many ways.  Not only am I back in Tennessee, but it feels like I am home.

It’s a very small world, indeed.

I found a photograph with people whom I know of, but not personally.  I put it in a stack of photos that could be sold.  It’s an autographed picture of the McKamey family, in Clinton, TN.

McKamey Family

I set the picture aside and moved on to the next box of things to go through.  There are so many pictures that I didn’t have time to look at.  So much work has to be done to get ready for the estate sale, and as much as I want to go through more pictures, I had to keep busy.

I forgot about the picture of the McKamey family until Farmer John, my uncle, came back to pick up some things to take to Ohio with him.  He found the box of pictures I set aside and put the photo of the McKameys on my truck hood.

“Can I sell that Uncle John?”

He chuckled.  I never know when he’s serious, sarcastic, or just trying to be funny.

“They’re your family.”

We don’t sell family photos, but this one is different.  He’s joking.

“You’re funny Uncle John.  Can I sell it?”

He told me to flip the picture over and read the names on the other side.  Bean.  Their names are Bean.

McKamey, Bean, McBean

My mother’s maiden name is Bean.  Her dad changed it to McBean to try to stop the teasing from kids.  My Farmer John uncle is a Bean, but his name was also changed to McBean.  Of course, since he is my mother’s brother.

It is truly a small world and I don’t know how Beans made it to the south.  I thought we were all snowbirds, but here are yet more musicians in my family.  Mommy Jean is also a singer, and the Bean family plays instruments.  I grew up with music.  My grandmother played piano.  She too is a McBean.

I looked at the picture and gazed in their eyes for a moment before setting it back in the box.  My heart is focused on one thing, and one thing only.

What is YHWH’s will for me?

And so, I got back to work.

Six houses, seven houses, eight houses.  Done.  How many more houses must I do before I reach the point where I trust the One who created me?


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