The Dallas Morning News

Family furniture goes to the dump


Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: Several years ago, my parents faded and entered assisted living. My siblings and I quickly had to sell and empty their house. What made the most sense was giving their furniture and home goods to my sister who lives four hours away, for her children to eventually use when they move out. My parents and I talked about how nice it would be for them to have fully furnished apartments right out of the gate.

My parents died in 2020. A few weeks ago, I visited my sister and asked to see the stored furniture. She told me she had taken what she could fit in her car but it didn’t “make sense” to rent a truck and store furniture until her kids needed it, so she took the rest to the dump.

I am so shocked and hurt. When I asked why she agreed to it, she said she just wanted to get Mom and Dad’s house empty.

She lied to me, to our parents, and denied her children items to start their lives. My other siblings refuse to discuss this with me. My sister sent me flowers and a note, but it’s clear she doesn’t think she did anything wrong.

I always considered my family close and now I don’t know what to think.

Betrayed Dear Betrayed: Your sibs (I suspect all of them) lied. I won’t pretend it didn’t happen or didn’t hurt. But I’d argue this was an act of pragmatism and compassion, not betrayal.

First, a reality check on old furniture: Boomers have been downsizing for years, and there are more hand-medowns than hands to receive them. Tastes, lifestyles and needs change.

Moving and storage, meanwhile, are pricey. Years of it would probably cost many times over what new stuff would cost when the kids launch. Plus, stored furniture doesn’t always fare well unless fussily packed and cared for — a job you fobbed off on your sister. Yes, there’s sentimenta­l value, but you valued it, for others.

Second, this stuff had to go “quickly.” Yikes.

Third, you were at the time obviously upset and highly emotionall­y invested.

Fourth, you were done with it all. Any saving was for others.

So I’d wager your sibs told a lie of compassion. It’s like the pet dog who “goes to live on a farm.” You got to feel assured and see your parents at peace that their possession­s “went to a farm,” too. It obviously backfired, but can you embrace any part of this as proof of sibs’ meaning well under duress?

Re: Furniture: My sympathies, but oooh, yes — this, a million times. After I called a dozen charities, one agreed to take the dining room set my mom practicall­y worshiped as a sign of middle-class respectabi­lity. They wouldn’t take the china cabinet. I finally called a junk hauler.

I still don’t know what to do with the porcelain dolls. Even the local heavy metal bands don’t want them for videos because they say they’re too creepy.

True Story Dear True Story: That parting paragraph, though, will always have a place here.

Readers’ thoughts:

■ If you value something material, you are in charge of collecting, storing, refurbishi­ng and finding a home for it.

■ Please send me the porcelain dolls. I’d like to arrange them around the homes of my enemies.

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