By Keith Whitson

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 tells us.

I was recently reminded of this by someone very dear to me who has gotten to an age where all that he owns is overwhelming for him to take care of. I also recognize it as one of my faults. I do try and store up heavenly treasures as well, but I still have items that hold great meaning to me here and I keep adding to them.

I save things that should be thrown away. I put back to go through later. I can’t turn it down if it’s on sale. I know I will have a need for it sometime.

I recently attended an estate sale, which I got to witness from the early stages through the end. Sometimes it comes down to a matter of distant relatives being all who are left. Items treasured by one, have no meaning to the next. After all, most relatives or friends have already established their lives, filled their homes and have no room to squeeze someone else’s treasures into the mix.

This was the case with the recent sale. Packed boxes and boxes had to be gone through as well as closets, drawers, cases and shelves. Personal things, which held special memories to the deceased of events and celebrations, were now without a story to tie them into a previous life.

It saddened me to think life comes down to this. Someone goes through your private things, sorts them out and prices them. They are items more valuable than money to the deceased and yet now they are being scattered near and far for merely nothing.

I, too, was fascinated like many. I looked through the huge assortment and brought home many things from the estate sale. Being a sentimental person, I tend to look at the meaning the items held and find them a special place among my treasured items.

From this particular sale I brought away boxes of newspaper clippings, old photographs and handwritten letters. I haven’t had time to go through much yet but am eager to see what stories the items tell. While some might see the items as junk and of no value, I see them as the written life of the couple and their inner most feelings.

Another item I obtained from the estate sale is an ancient Chinese metal container. The piece has worn colors of what was once a bright design. Some type of strange creatures extend outward for handles on the sides. Another type of creature sits atop the lid, which has slits all around the top.

I am not sure what the piece was once used for. I was a bit fearful of it at first. Maybe the Chinese emperor who once owned it was still holding onto it in some sort of ghostly way. I haven’t noticed any strange apparitions at home or any unusual noises.

However, this is just a reminder of how far back one piece can go. No doubt it has been handed down many times over the years and rested at many dwellings since its creation. It will probably go on to many locations after it leaves me.

Death brings a strange mix from families wanting nothing to families fighting over the smallest of items. The safest way is to prepare a final will and testimony and even that is no guarantee for easy division. While many with few treasures cause strife over their estates, wealthy deaths, with no final will, can go on for years.

Musician Jimi Hendrix died in 1970 with no will and the battle over  his estate went on for more than 30 years. Bob Marley’s is the same.

Pablo Picasso died in 1973 at the age of 91, leaving behind a fortune in assets that included artwork, five homes, cash, gold and bonds. Because Picasso died intestate and left no will, it took 6 years to settle his estate at a cost of $30 million. His assets were eventually divided up among six heirs.

Howard Hughes was an eccentric billionaire who died in 1976 at the age of 70. When he died, his will was discovered at the headquarters of the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City. The will, however, was proved to be a forgery in a Nevada court and his estate was divided among his 22 cousins.

Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s 16th president, died with no will despite the fact that he was a lawyer.

Everything we have is only ours for a moment in time. We just get to enjoy it for awhile.