What does it feel like to auction off your loved ones’ possessions? Those special things that have accumulated over a lifetime and hold stores of precious memories?

For the Amish, this is the way things work when the aged pass on.

Amish Cook Gloria Yoder writes this week about auctioning off her grandparents’ estate, following her grandmother’s recent passing:

Ever since Grandma’s death, I knew the auction was coming up. But then, you can’t really face it until it comes to reality. The Amish tradition is to sell the deceased parents’ items over auction with only the family included. The proceeds then get added to the inheritance money, then each person can do with their money what he chooses, in honor of their parents.

Grandma and Grandpa’s belongings needed to be taken care of. You can’t just forever leave everything like it was because it makes you so sad to see their cute little house cleaned out, lacking the warmth you always felt the moment you stepped inside. There was never a time I didn’t feel entirely welcome and loved as I knocked at the door and came to spend time with Dawdy (Grandpa).

That said, the belongings don’t necessarily go far. The buyers here are the seven children, along with grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

These types of auctions are really a way of redistributing items among the family. So what kinds of items are sold?

Now the time had finally come, the seven children had gone through all the belongings in the house and arranged all sorts of things such as Grandma’s dishes, including some they had used at their wedding 60 years ago, old diaries and toys we used to play with, on long rows of tables.


The furniture also was being sold; Grandma’s hickory rocker stood to the side, then there was the carrom board that Grandpa had made decades ago. The wooden green wagon especially held my attention.

Gloria clearly struggles with the hard reality of the sale. Yet at the same time she realizes an eternal lesson:

In a way it just didn’t feel right to be selling all Dawdy’s items; on the other hand, Dawdy’s words before his death kept ringing through my mind. I could just hear him seriously talk about how one generation comes and the other goes: “Soon we won’t be here anymore, and you will just tell your children about us; they won’t even remember about us.”

How true, yet it tugs at my heartstrings. Dawdy preached many sermons at church, encouraging everyone to turn to God before it’s forever too late. In the weeks before he passed, when we went to visit him, he repeatedly said, “The things of this world just don’t have any true value. It is only the things of God that really count.”

Read the column in full here.

Image credit: amonroy/flickr

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