Monday, May 17, 2010

Collecting, hoarding, whatever

We have just spent the last few days helping our little old lady neighbor try and get ready to move far away. It was nightmarish and has made me doubly suspicious of buying ANYTHING.
I love my neighbor, former neighbor now, and it just breaks my heart what she was reduced to at the end, living environment-wise.
She was on that property 11 years, and has evidently been hoarding many things the entire time. Even though we have always been friendly, I had only been into her house a few times and mainly noticed that she was a lousy housekeeper. But the reality was much worse. There were narrow little paths through the house and STUFF everywhere else, piled as high as it would go in most places. There were hoards of various canned goods in every room, in the garage and shed outside, and in the mobile home also on the 10 acres. The deep freeze was completely full, and stuff fell out of the refrigerator whenever the door was opened. And she bought more food every time she went to town.
But the food hoarding is fairly benign compared to the rest of the story. The clothing and papers and trash were piled so high in the master bedroom that you couldnt open the door more than a foot. The bathtub was full of stuff and the toilet unusable because of stuff piled around and on it.
The second bedroom was not quite as bad, as the computer was in there and a path needed to get over to the desk. The bed piled high and unusable just like the master bedroom.
The third bedroom was evidently where she had been sleeping, maybe. It wasnt piled quite as high, but did have sheets and a pillow on it and a small area where someone could curl up to sleep. The small bathroom and shower in that bedroom were actually usable.
And the kitchen boogles the mind. No surfaces, with dishes and papers and more canned goods everywhere, all the cabinets stuffed full with stuff falling out of them, the dishwasher full of dishes and every little nook stuffed with plastic bags.
The living room had/has so much stuff piled everywhere that you couldnt tell where there was carpet and where tile, or what color they were. So much stuff in front of the fireplace you couldnt tell if it was open or had an insert. Years of cobwebs festoon all the windows. 2 living room chairs not covered, one for her and one for the dog.
At least there wasnt dog shit everywhere, as I have read that many hoarders end up unable to even keep their animals from defecating inside. This little dog is housebroken.
Her son came from WA to move her back up there, and rented a huge truck to do it. It was incredibly painful emotionally for her to sort stuff into what should go and what should be thrown or given away. And sorting clothing or food was just as hard as sorting furniture. I tried to get her to let me just box up canned goods to take to the food bank and she wouldnt do it; tried to bag up clothing for the Goodwill, but she wouldnt do it. It was not that she necessarily wanted it, she said, she just couldnt let it go.
Her son and my husband finally just loaded all the furniture on the truck and put in all the other stuff that men think you need, like garden tools, bicycle, outside stuff. SHe wouldnt sort the books, so they boxed and loaded all of them.
Her son left at sundown but my neighbor said she just needed a couple more hours to finish packing her vehicle and she would follow him. She called last night to let us know where the keys are and say she was leaving but she will come back and sort some more before the renters move in at the end of the month.
I dont know what will happen there, but I know there are at least a couple of dumpster loads of trash there, as well as lots of usable stuff still.
Preserve me from becoming that way. Continue to destash and de-accumulate. I dont believe in god, but please god dont let me lost my power to make decisions.

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