When my parents retired, they moved into a farmhouse in a very small town - a village really, except that we don’t have villages in California. The house had a barn. It was small by barn standards, and I don’t know if it ever housed any livestock - possibly some farm equipment.
One of the first things that happened when my parents moved in was that the barn was made over. It was made structurally sound, cleaned, and a concrete floor was poured. About 1/3 of the barn became the garage. The rest was storage for the type of things that generally go into an attic - which California houses, even turn-of-the-century farmhouses, frequently don’t have. There were Christmas decorations, and canning jars, and my mother’s stash.
In the middle of it all was a large cutting table - mom was a seamstress. But the cutting table was quickly covered in more, um, junk, and cutting was henceforth done on the dining room table, as it pretty much had been done all my life.
I used to tell mom that when she died we were just going to burn the barn. Mom was horrified. What really happened was what generally happens. When my father became ill, they sold the house and moved “to town,” into a nice mobile home park. The stash went along and occupied the shed in the yard, a portion of the covered carport, and the closets in both my mother’s sewing room and my dad’s study. Also under the guest bed. It may have been pared down a little - I don’t know.
A few years after daddy passed away, mom’s memory began to fail and it became obvious to us that she could no longer live on her own. My sister found a nice retirement community for her to live in, but she had to downsize to a one-bedroom apartment. Although she could no longer do most of the crafts that she loved, she did want to hang on to some things. My sisters and I packed up up a variety of yarn, fabric, thread and patterns, and those went with her.
It then fell to the family to deal with the rest of the contents of the house, shed and carport before the mobile home could be sold. It was dirty, it was August in the San Joaquin valley, and it was sad. The only thing that made it at all bearable was that my sisters, my brother, our spouses and most of my nieces and nephews were gathered together. It was a family reunion.
Most of the fabric/fiber sorting fell to me. The cotton fabrics went to the church quilting group. The quilts squares and pieces from the quilt that my grandmother started, and I remember my mother working on from time to time during my life, came to me. The acrylic yarn went to the thrift store, as did the polyester fabric and most of the patterns - although some of them were designer Vogue from the 60’s and would have fetched a pretty penny on eBay - but there just wasn’t time.
But it all had to be gone through, because in amongst the polyester and acrylic were some real treasures. Like my grandmother’s quilt pieces. Like the fuzzy pink mohair, obviously intended for a sweater in the 50’s, but now is a fuzzy pale pink shawl belonging to Risé’s daughter-in-law. Or the vintage rayon bouclé and Italian mohair that became part of the Albuquerque shawls.