Dear Mik and Mike: I have a huge family problem and I need help. I just found out my sister has taken my dead mother’s gold jewelry and sold it at one of the places that advertises they will buy all your gold. Some of these pieces have been in our family for three generations and are really beautiful works of art. I am so mad I could choke her. She thinks it was ok because we need the money and our mother is dead. We’re not speaking and our brothers want to know why. What do I tell them?
I see all those ads on TV and I’m curious what she got for it. When I got hard up for some cash a few years ago I took my father’s heirloom Rolex watch to the watch store. I wanted to sell it for cash. Why? I was broke! The thought of some sushi and new clothes sounded better then keeping a watch in a box in my house. I brought the watch to the store and the watch guy said it was a fake! I was stupefied, shocked.
My advice is to tell your brothers the truth and let them have their own opinions. I’m of two minds with the issue of family heirlooms. Stuff is stuff, and we end up taking care of a lot of stuff we will never use or even look at. We need to secure appropriate storage for the stuff, which clutters up our living space. We worry we’ll lose the stuff or it will be stolen, then we’ll feel terrible: guilty, shamed, and sad, and even a little stupid. Yuck!
But I admit to being a collector of family photos. This is quite odd since I never liked my family or even felt like I was a welcome member. I think most of us cling to pieces of our past in different ways and some are not so healthy. Being mad enough at your sister that you could choke her is not healthy. What’s done is done and the best that you can do is listen to her point of view, express your own, and then you will most likely have to agree to disagree. She sounds pragmatic and you sound emotional, and I doubt you will see eye to eye. Having a lump of melted gold to remember you mother by is kind of pitiful if you ask me. Here is your “golden” (sorry!) opportunity to move on. Honor the memory of your mother and those who came before her in another way. There are cultures that have quite elaborate traditions about this, and they never had any gold to worry about. This may open up a whole new world for you.