Readers become our friends: Myrna and Bethany

#472 in a series of true experiences in real estate
October 2004, Hills Newspapers

We met recently two most pleasant women I’ll call Myrna and Bethany. It was Myrna who first contacted us. She’s been reading this column, she explained, and had decided long ago that if she ever had to sell her house, she’d call us.

On the phone she asked, “Which one are you?”

“Anet’s the one on the left in the photo,” I told her. “She has curly hair. I’m Pat. I have straight hair.”

“I have straight hair, too,” Myrna said, and, bing, I knew that I had bonded with this woman.

Myrna told me that she’s now 83, and not long ago had knee replacement surgery. She needs to move out of her house to a retirement home.

I asked how she was feeling about going, and her answer made me sad. “I don’t have any choice,” she said.

“Where will you go?” I wanted to know.

“I want to stay in Berkeley, and I’ve looked at different places. I think this one I found just today will work. I’ve signed a contract that begins next week.”

” I’m trying to clear my house. My basement is full. Too many interests in life,” she said, which made me ask, “Can one have too many interests?”

“Well, there’s a lot I don’t know what to do with. I can’t take it with me. Now I’m working on the linen closet.”

“Wait,” I tell her, “maybe we can figure something out. We’ll come see you and give you the names of someone who can sell your things, and others who will accept donations.”

It was Bethany who opened the front door and introduced herself as Myrna’s friend. When Myrna heard us come in, she got up from where she’d been sitting and walked with some difficulty into the kitchen to greet us.

She’s a tall, handsome woman. She looks quite strong bodied, she does have short straight hair, and she has beautiful, long-fingered hands. She offered her hand, smooth and soft and cool.

Bethany showed us around the house, then we all found chairs in the living room where we could sit and talk amongst neat piles of linens, tablecloths and such, stacked on the couch. We talked about the persimmon tree in the front garden loaded with fruit, and we talked about them, their lives, their friendship.

Myrna came to California from Texas to attend Mills College in the 1940s, did a stint in the Navy, returned to Mills for graduate work. It was after that, at the first job she’d applied for, the one she’d stayed at until retirement, that she’d met Bethany. Myrna had bought her house 50 years before, and it was she who had done all the gardening and made repairs. “Myrna’s quite handy,” her friend said.

The two had traveled together, had parties together, had just the night before gone to another friend’s nearby house for dinner. And, it seemed, since Myrna’s knee problems and surgery, Bethany had been the one who drove Myrna to doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, on errands and social visits.

Thank goodness for friends. “You are a wonderful friend,” I told Bethany. Clearly, Bethany was now engaged in helping Myrna go through the linen closet and the basement workshop full of power tools. Plus the darkroom with its photography equipment. Also, receipts and bills and old tax records.

We asked Myrna if she knew yet what she’d be taking with her. Yes, pretty much. She knew the room she’d taken wasn’t large. She’d need only her bed, TV, desk, chair, and such. Everything else would be left behind.

Only distant family was left in Texas, no need to send things to them. It would be a huge job to sort through what was in the house and garage, one the ladies found overwhelming.

“We’ll call Sharon,” we said. “Sharon Hoyle. She’s terrific. Sharon has a small shop in Berkeley on Shattuck near Francisco. It’s called Mixed Pickles. And she holds household sales.”

“You can take everything you want and leave the rest. Sharon will come look at what you’ve got, give you an estimate of what it will sell for. She’ll advertise the sale, go through everything and price it, write a receipt for each item for you. And after the sale, she will clear the house of anything left over.”

“Not long ago Sharon sold everything left behind by some clients of ours who moved to Mexico. She did a great job, even sold some of our client’s collectibles on EBay for them. If Sharon is available, and we do hope she is, she’ll give us dates, and we can make a good plan.”

“Myrna will move, Sharon will come, then we’ll have the house inspected. Depending on what we find out about the house, we’ll make suggestions to you for work that might be done. Then we can set a date for putting the house on the market.”

This all sounded good to Myrna and Bethany. Myrna will need money to support herself. Retirement homes are expensive, and the more services one receives, the more they cost. Myrna, for instance, takes medications which, we learned, are ordered and administered by a staff member. There is an extra monthly charge for this service.

We got up to go. Bethany walked us to the door. She was tired she said. “Myrna is tired, too.”

It would be a great relief to them both to have the house and contents dealt with. “Thank you,” Bethany said, and we said, “Thank you.”

This entry was posted in Information for Both Sellers and Buyers. Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

  • Sign up to receive our newspaper columns: