If you have sell a parent or relative’s house after they’ve died, then you should be prepared for quite an adventure. My husband and I went through this a few years ago when his great aunt died. She’d lived with his mother for decades. Once she died, my mother in law needed to go into an assisted living facility as she wasn’t healthy enough to live on her own.
So, the cleaning up and selling of their home after his aunt’s death fell to us. Because they were older when they died, the home hadn’t been cleaned in quite some time. Also, his aunt had secretly taken up smoking again. So, there were areas of the house that were personal to her that smelled of smoke and had walls and ceilings stained with tar. Needless to say, we had a lot to do to get their home ready to sell.
For many people this act of cleaning out a home after a death or move to assisted living can reveal unexpected treasures. Every item you uncover may offer new insights into your family’s past, making decluttering a journey of discovery.
Or, on the other hand, it led you to realize that your relative had experienced a worse cognitive decline that you’d originally realized. This was the case with my husband’s aunt. As we started clearing out cabinets and closets, we discovered kitchen tools and housewares in duplicate and triplicate.
When we asked his mother about that, she mentioned that her sister couldn’t remember what they owned, for example, to make Christmas dinner. So she would go out and buy something new. Nevermind that what she needed was in a closet that she didn’t think to check. Thus, the multiples we found during the clean out.
Here are some examples of the things kids have found while parents cleaning out their parents homes.
Hidden treasures found before selling parents house
One of the most exciting things about cleaning out your parents’ house is the possibility of finding hidden treasures. Here are some examples of what kids have discovered.
Vintage toys in your parents house
If your mom or Dad grew up in the 1960s or ‘70s — or even earlier in the 20th century — you might find some old toys tucked away in the attic or basement. Some kids have found everything from Star Wars action figures to Barbie dolls to vintage board games in mint condition.
This makes for an “Antiques Roadshow” moment, wouldn’t you say? Of course, you could try to sell items at auction. Or maybe put them up on eBay and see what they can fetch.
Valuable items such as jewelry
Your parents may have inherited some jewelry from their own parents or grandparents that they’ve forgotten about. Some kids have found diamond rings, gold watches and other valuable jewelry that their parents didn’t even realize they had.
In fact, this was the case when an older relative died. While cleaning out her house, we found duplicate diamond rings that her father had bought for each of his daughters. We had no idea they existed.
Also, when we were clearing out my husband’s mom and aunt’s house, we found U.S. Savings Bonds scattered all over the home office. There were bonds for our children inside the desk, underneath the desk and slipped behind other pieces of furniture. Those bonds added up to tens of thousands of dollars.
If your parents are collectors, there may be some valuable items hidden away in their house. Kids have found everything from rare coins and military medals to antique books. Someone even found an old book signed by J Edgar Hoover and valuable comic books.
Valuable isn’t how Robin Donovan of All Ways Delicious would describe the things she found in her parents home.
“My parents made a 400-mile move in their 80s, leaving a house they’d lived in for more than 30 years,” she recalls. “Unpacking in their new home was an adventure! They moved a large box filled with empty shoe boxes, a box full of real estate sales training videos from the 1980s, and at least 75 wine glasses and 42 serving platters. I was oddly pleased to see my laundry bag from sleepaway camp in the ’70s!”
Some of these collectibles could help you create the vintage Christmas aesthetic you aspire to have during the holiday season.
Weird and Wacky Items
Of course, not everything you find while cleaning out your parents’ house will be valuable or even useful. Here are some of the weirdest things that kids have found:
Strange souvenirs: Maybe your parents went on a trip to a foreign country and brought back some strange souvenirs. Some kids have found everything from voodoo dolls to shrunken heads to taxidermy animals in their parents’ homes.
Other strange and unexpected finds include a coffin, an unexplained pole vault crossbar and a prison release document.
Unusual artwork: Your parents may have some unusual art hanging on their walls that you’ve never seen before. Some kids have found oddities from creepy clown paintings to adult-rated images to sculptures made out of driftwood.
A Collection of Over 30 Wheelchairs
Your parents may have collected some unusual things over the years. Kids have found vast collections of rocks, empty bottles or old newspapers.
On the other hand, others have found a collection of more than 30 wheelchairs in the basement, a collection of false teeth and a stockpile of toilet paper rolls. That could have come in handy when you couldn’t find toilet paper in 2020.
Finally, while you may find some strange and interesting things while cleaning out your parents’ house, you may also come across some sentimental items that mean a lot to your family.
Delving into the past through old family photos is like embarking on a time-traveling adventure. As you flip through the pages of a long-forgotten scrapbook, you may discover candid shots of your ancestors and learn about their lives and travels from a bygone era.
And the handwritten recipes you uncover could hold the key to recreating your family’s cherished dishes. For example, is that mouth-watering hashbrown casserole a family legend? Or do you discover a beloved dessert recipe that’s been passed down through the generations.
If you ever stumble upon a box of old family photos, prepare to embark on a journey through time and uncover some truly priceless treasures.
As you sift through old boxes and dusty corners, you may stumble upon a treasure trove of handwritten letters that your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents once cherished. People have found fascinating letters about love and heartbreak, family feuds and scandals.
So if you’re in the midst of clearing out your parent’s home, keep your eyes peeled for these precious time capsules — they might just be the most remarkable discoveries you make.
Family heirlooms are more than just rare and valuable artifacts. Often, it’s the simplest things that hold the most sentimental value. Just imagine the joy of stumbling upon an old pie dish that takes you back to the days of your mom’s delicious homemade lemon pie or a cozy sweater knitted by your grandmother. These seemingly ordinary items can hold a world of memories and emotions, making them priceless family treasures.
Childhood mementos are like time capsules that hold a wealth of memories and emotions. From the first lock of hair to the tiny baby teeth, parents have an extraordinary knack for holding onto these precious keepsakes.
However, I will say that stumbling upon children’s baby teeth can teeter on the edge of creepy. As a parent myself, I understand the initial desire to save a child’s tooth when they lose it. However, fast forward a few decades and you come across those old teeth? Really feels creepy.
Anyway, as you sift through your parents’ belongings, you may stumble upon your own treasured moments from childhood — like a handmade card or a heartfelt letter that brings back a flood of memories.
So, while cleaning out your parents’ house may seem like a chore, it can also be a journey of discovery.
This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.