As you probably know, I am a Realtor. I think my favorite task as a Realtor is showing homes to buyers.
When getting a home ready to show, the traditional advice is to de-personalize the home so that others can imagine themselves in the house, as opposed to feeling like a guest in the home. I have a vivid imagination, so I often try to imagine the people who live(d) in the houses I'm showing. So, while de-personalizing to a certain degree is a good idea, if the home is absolutely occupied, but there's zero hints as to the people living there, it distracts me. I advise my clients that it's ok to have one or two photos on the wall, but that it shouldn't be an overwhelming presence. Just enough for them to see, "Oh, this family just gave birth to their third child. I bet that's why they're moving out of this two bedroom condo".
The other day, I was showing a vacant home. The house had wonderful potential, but was fairly dated. Vacant homes don't drive my imagination crazy like completely impersonal homes, so I just assumed it was an older couple was was scaling down, or possibly had died.
A man surprised us by popping up in the back greenhouse window, causing my client to nearly jump out of her skin. Once he recovered from his amusement, Dennis came in and gave us the tour. He was selling his parents' house. Dad had died 9 years earlier, and Mom had died this past September. As he gave us the tour, he told us about his mother. She seemed like such an amazing person that by the end of the tour, I simultaneously felt like I KNEW her, and mourned her loss, and the fact that I hadn't known her.
In one drawer, she had every owner's manual to everything she'd ever owned. Each sealed in a plastic bag and neatly labeled in her leftie handwriting. There was everything from a circa 1970s range to a twist on faucet regulator.
The yard had been her crown jewel, and she had won yard of the year a few times. Lining the back of the house was a row of mature rose bushes. They were perfectly pruned back, save the last two. The second to last one was partially pruned, and the last one was a bit overgrown. Dennis told us that his mother had fallen while pruning the rose bushes. That fall had caused a lot more internal damage than she realized, and she'd died within a few days.
He buried her with roses from the remaining, unpruned bush, as well as her gardening gloves and shears. He felt she would've liked that.
He said the family couldn't bear to finish the rosebush job, so there it had stayed.
I'll admit I had noticed the perfectly groomed yard, and thought it was interesting that the rose bushes hadn't been completed. After hearing the story, I was nearly in tears, looking at those roses and knowing the significance and the story behind them.
It was a very interesting showing, and it was nice to remember the people that live in the homes I show.