Prepper Diary November 1: Bugging Out and on Being Charitable

Covered wagon
We didn't use covered wagons, but our trip to the mountains was a long one nonetheless.

It took longer than I expected to get the repairs made, the painting finished, the drone photography shot, the video produced, and the appraisal done, but our house is officially on the market.

Happily, it appraised for more than I expected and the photography looks even better than the ol’ house ever did.  (I guess those stagers and designers know what they are doing.) Now we have to wait and see what it actually sells for, which may help determine if we can go solar next year. 

There are already showings scheduled, so we are loading up the truck, sticking the cat in the carrier, and bugging out to our prepper property for the pre-Election Day bug out.  We’ve left the realtor the alarm code and the keys, and we’ll let her handle everything on the showing end.

We’ve left the majority of our furniture in the house so it shows better.  Tucked away in the back room of our basement and the garage are boxes of books, Christmas decorations, the contents of file drawers, and other stuff, but the valuable gear and the items of personal importance have already been moved or are coming with us this trip. 

Now it’s just a matter of seeing how quickly we can sell this place and line up a moving truck.  We’ve been warned that just getting a slot with a mover can be difficult.

Downsize = Throwing Stuff Out

When my parents moved out of the house I grew up in, they actually rented a dumpster so they could clean out their house.  I didn’t really understand why they needed it because I was in my early 20s and lived in a 680-square foot apartment.  I didn’t have that much stuff. 

Today, the shoe is on the other foot.  I didn’t rent a dumpster, but we made multiple trips to the dump.

When my mom died and my dad moved out of their house and into a retirement community, we helped.  Then we helped my wife’s parents when they downsized.  We quickly realized that so much of the physical goods you accumulate in life have little or no value to anyone else, and diminishing value to ourselves.  We look at the purge caused by this move as a gift to our children.  Now there will be less for them to sort through and throw away when we come to our inevitable end.

Of course, some things are worth preserving.  For example, I know my daughter values the tea set my mother left her.  They used to have fancy teas together when she was a little girl, and the set is a nice reminder of those happy days.  But when we asked her if she wanted things shed left at the house, like her karate trophies, her martial arts weapons, her school award certificates, and her soccer medals, she said no.

Similarly, I threw out all my work samples.  These individual achievements don’t mean much to us, but things that help us remember loved ones, whether they are still with us or not, do.

Some Gifts Mean More

When my oldest daughter was in softball, she used my old, broken-in glove.  One day she left it out in the rain in the back yard, and I was pissed.  “My father gave me that glove!” I yelled at her.  Her mother didn’t really understand why I was so angry.  It wasn’t like I played softball; I hadn’t used the glove for anything more than a game of catch.  I wasn’t entirely sure where the anger came from, but then I realized that my father hadn’t give me much.  That made every gift of his that much more valuable.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a pretty good childhood, and they kept a roof over our head and food on the table, even during some of the tougher years.  But my mom bought most of the Christmas presents.  The presents were all from Santa Clause, and later labeled from “Mom & Dad” but I could tell who did most of the Christmas shopping and knew the few gifts that my dad picked out. Things like the slot car track and the baseball glove.  Later, the tools were always from him, and from about age 16 on, I got one major tool per year.  

Those tools still mean something to me.  For example, I won’t loan out my very first socket set to my daughter.  (Subconsciously, I am probably worried that she’ll leave it out in the rain.)

That Special Rock

There are special gifts my mother gave me, as well, like the geode she picked up for me on a trip to Utah.  Little things that are important to me, even if no one else realizes it.  I imagine when I go, the conversation between my kids will go something like this:

“What should we do with the rock with the crystals inside that Dad used to prop open the door?”

“Wow, he still has that?  I remember thinking it was cool when I was a kid.”

“OK, then you take it.”

“What am I going to do with it?”

“I don’t know, prop a door open with it?”

“I’ll give it to one of the kids.  Tell them that Grandpa left it to them.”

“That’s a great idea!”

I’d be OK with that.

Leaving Things to People

My wife has an aunt who is in her late 80s.  If you admire a picture on the wall or a piece of china in her china cabinet, she’ll scribble your name on a piece of tape and stick it on the back.  “There!” she’ll exclaim.  “It’ll be yours when I die.”  She’s been doing this for decades and is still with us, one of these old women who is still sharp as a tack.  But I have a picture in my mind of the first person to visit the house after her death pulling tape off things and switching the names all around.

When my grandfather died at the ripe old age of 92, he was living with a woman to whom he was not married.  She was not in the will, but by the time my parents got the news and traveled down to Florida, a number of valuable items had disappeared from his house.  My mom was pissed about that for years.  But what are you gonna do?

Have a will, people.  Do some estate planning.  Appoint an executor and leave written instructions for them.  Make a list of bequeathments. Better yet, give the people you love things now, while they can use them.

For example, you can give someone a gift of up to $15,000 tax free.  If my father gave me and my sister $15,000 each, we would be grateful, but it wouldn’t dramatically change our lives.  But if he gave my kids $15,000 each, it could have an enormous impact.  My youngest daughter would put it towards her Master’s degree.  My oldest would pay off some debt and move a step closer to buying a house.

Being Generous

Once we get this house sold, the election behind us, and COVID-19 is in rear-view mirror, I hope to reach a point in my life where I can afford to be generous. That’s barring any SHTF situation, of course.  Until then, I’m going to have to stick with giving away gently used books, our old furniture, excess canned food, and all the free advice they’ll listen to.

If you enjoyed this entry in the diary, then you may like Prepper Diary October 6: It’s Been a Week of Chores


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