My heart knows that my parents are where they need to be in assisted living, but when my feet crossed the street from my parents’ house to snap a panoramic shot of the grassy meadow covered with parked cars lined up for the auction, my eyes cried. It’s the end of an era. Yesteryear.

I’ve worked so many hours in the past month getting the place ready for the auction that I hadn’t allowed myself much time to think, to remember. When I sorted through the endless photos I barely paused to glimpse, merely tossing them into boxes; it became a matter of reaching that finish line – being ready for the first auction day. And we were ready. Besides all the family treasures which I unearthed, I discovered another unexpected surprise that doesn’t fit into a box.

Being the youngest of six children with four older brothers, while growing up my closest contact had always been with my lone sister. Throughout the years she included me in her life the most. Several years ago, my sister passed away leaving my brothers with just one sister and me with none. But by that time I was married with my own family of four sons. My time and thoughts revolved around my "new" family, seeing my brothers and their families mostly on holidays.

That is, until my dad fell, forming that tiny snowball which has careened down the Swiss Alps gathering speed and snow. The snowball is now huge. My brothers and I have discovered the wonderful worlds of POAs, DNRs, assisted living and pre-paid funerals. And auctions. With the house auction down we have one more to go – the barn. My brain can’t quite fathom that auction yet, but my brothers have taken the lead and when October comes we will be ready for that one too. I have much faith in us all.

Going from seeing my brothers on only a handful of holidays to being in constant contact with them for the past four months has presented its own unique set of challenges at times. We’ve butt heads. We don’t always agree. Time passes. We forge ahead. We’ve become real family again, not merely polite people visiting on holidays. And with family comes conflict, but we never forget that we love each other. It’s really pretty simple. Mom and Pop would be proud.

I discovered my unexpected gift during a blistering 90 degree day last week: my brother Tim. I realized how well we work together becoming a team without getting in each other’s way. We agreed about how to tackle problems. We took breaks together, Tim emerging from the dungeon of the basement, me descending from the stifling heat upstairs, both seeking the cool air in the living room. We looked forward to the tangible results at the end of every day. The place was looking good.

While sitting on the couch one day before the house auction I shared my idea with Tim of possibly bidding on the very couch on which I was sitting if it went for a cheap price. I’d leave it at the farm. This way we’d all have somewhere inside to sit when we begin working in the barn, and come to seek the cool living room air once more. Tim had already thought of this, and said he’d planned to bid on the chair on which he was sitting. Great minds think alike.

Auction day came and went, thanks to everyone’s efforts, and when auction item # 168 - blue chair - came up for bid, my brother Tim raised his hand winning the chair for five whole dollars! Looking back at him our eyes met. He chuckled as we shared a knowing smile. Unfortunately I let the couch go to another bidder. I couldn’t quite fathom bidding on one more thing; trust me, I’d already bought plenty! So with only one remaining chair in the house, I’d say that Timmy’s in the catbird seat. I may have lost the couch, but I found a 365-day brother.

Copyright 2010 Maureen Locher