Moves are often underestimated

Isabel and friends: a moving experience
#341 in a series of true experiences in real estate
October 2000, Hills Newspapers

We met Isabel many months before she sold the Oakland house that she and her husband had bought sixty years before. Alone now, she had made the decision to move close to her sister and her husband, Ann and Bud. But first the accumulation of possessions in Isabel’s house would have to be dealt with.

It was a lot. Isabel knew this – and yet, she didn’t. Her main worry at the start was what to do with the contents of her husband’s several workshops. Neatly organized but extensive tools and machinery, hoists and saws, treadle sewing machine and much, much more filled the large basement, garage and shed.

We looked at it and said, “Wow,” and we were only looking at the first layer. So many more things were stowed in cupboards and drawers and under workbenches. Isabel and friends contacted people who buy tools. Family members selected items they wanted. Finally a sale was organized and, over a weekend, a lot was purchased and removed.

But much remained. For many days, Isabel and Ann and Bud sorted through and boxed what would be given to charity. They hired a hauler to take more away. It was about this time that Isabel’s niece, Nina, came from her home in Oregon to help. Thank goodness for Nina who threw her able self into assisting her aunt in every way she could. For six weeks, Nina directed the action.

Closets were gone through, items tossed or recycled. China was packed; antiques were set aside for family. Together Nina and Isabel looked at all of the Christmas decorations, sheets and towels, pots and baking pans. Bud and Ann, as always, helped too.

When we put the house on the market, it looked tidy and relatively spare. There was immediate interest in the house and it was sold to a young couple who would allow Isabel some time after the sale closed to finish packing and moving.

Ann and Bud lived in a trailer park in Union City and Isabel had arranged for a space there for herself. She’d made a deposit on a new manufactured home (which, we learned, is what “trailers” are called these days). Isabel showed us the floor plan; this “trailer” was large: two bedrooms and a plus room, large kitchen, two baths. She got to choose the paint and counter colors and carpets. If only it was ready when the salesman promised, everything would go smoothly.

It wasn’t ready. “It will be soon,” Isabel was told a number of times, but it took so long that in the end, Isabel was going to have her belongings moved into storage. She’d keep some of her clothes and other things with her and stay with Ann and Bud until she could take possession of her new home.

The movers came and took all of the furniture, lamps, bedding, boxes of belongings to storage. That afternoon we went by Isabel’s to see how she was doing. The plan was to clear out the house completely the following day.

We asked Ann and Bud who was going to box up and move the rest of Isabel’s belongings. “We are,” they chimed, smiling.

Much remained in the kitchen. Just in case they wanted to prepare a meal there, they’d kept out a few dishes, some pots and pans, knives and the like. There were still packaged foods in the cupboards, the refrigerator was fairly full, the freezer jammed.

These dear people, all three in their eighties, are tirelessly cheerful and willing but the task was large. We asked what the plan was to transport everything to Union City? “We’ll have to make a couple of trips,” they replied.

We suggested they rent a truck and call Isabel’s niece who has a van. Moving is just so big. Everyone, regardless of age or how many times they’ve moved, underestimates what is involved.

Bud did rent a truck the next day and the niece came too. Still, by the time they got to the foil-wrapped packages in the freezer, three vehicles were filled to capacity. Everyone was very tired indeed and they still needed to stash the frozen food before crawling into bed.

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