Now that my son is recovering back at home and the dogs are safe and relatively happy, my attention turns to my material possessions. The insurance appraiser and contractor have already walked me through the house for an initial survey. “How long should the rebuild take?” I imagine the appraiser is mentally calculating the cost of not only the rebuild but my living costs while out of the house. “About three months from the time the work begins.” The appraiser isn’t happy about this, but he doesn’t seem surprised. I’m not too happy, either. That means trying to sell my house in the fall, not the best time for house sales. Also, my daughter will be back from college soon, and it doesn’t look like she’ll see her room or the stuff she left behind. We probably won’t move back into our home until after she has returned to Florida and starting her second year of college.
I have been in the process of decluttering for the last year or so, planning to sell and find a smaller house for my empty nest years, but I still have a lot of stuff. My kids do, too. Creating an inventory of everything I own seems overwhelming. Luckily, the contractor and appraiser will create lists and prices of what they can photograph. What about the half of my kitchen that’s no longer there? Start creating your own inventory from memory, they tell me. The contractor later reassures me privately that anything reasonable is usually accepted. He had one client in the past, though, that tried to get reimbursed for a very expensive rug that no one had ever seen. I guess all appraisers and contractors have stories like this, so they are cautious by necessity.
It takes a few days before I can force myself to begin my inventory. I visualize the kitchen counters and upper cabinets, writing down everything I can remember. Glasses and teapots and cups are easy enough to list. Oh yes, I kept the dogs’ medicines in one – very pricey those are. Vitamins and medicines were in another cabinet, almost as expensive as the dogs’ medicines! My food processor, my brand new glass electric tea kettle, a Brita water filter, and a lovely ceramic bowl I used many years for fruit – all gone.
I recall the cabinet with the special holiday dishes, hard to replace because you can’t just go into every store for Jewish holiday dishes. I had a Hanukah platter for latkes and an apple-and-honey set for Rosh Hashanah. I had a set of bowls with a winter scene on each, a northern winter scene, of course, that was a gift. In one cabinet I had Franconian wine glasses from my years in Germany and even more irreplaceable, I had Turkish tea glasses, tulip-shaped and delicate, some simple glass and some crystal. They are ‘souvenirs’ of my life with a Turkish man and trips to Turkey. Perhaps I could find similar glasses online, but these items are valuable not only as objects in their own right but for the memories associated with them. How can they be appraised? How much is a memory worth?