As I have sat across from my 93 y/o aunt, and attempted to breach the mental fortificatitons of her hoarding mind, I have come to realize neither she nor I have the energy, right now, to get the job done.
I have too many other irons in the fire (read previous entries, so you don’t think I am a selfish bastard). I am bound to care for her now. I promised my dying mom I would) I do feel good about that. Auntie is indeed family…I love her. Food, health, family I can give. But a safe environment is now a negotiable definition. I must create space that is safe for her and maintain it on a frequent basis. But, there will be no massive cleanup here until she is gone.
Unlike my mom’s mess, which was part items of value and just plain junk to garbage…an unsafe health issue….Auntie’s is heavily cluttered but organized for resale. Her focus has always been money. Buy low—sell high to make money for property taxes, heating oil and food. Never wanting to touch her investments and social security. Consequently, she did a great job of accruing a comfortable life, financially. But, several years ago, when her cohort in crime…my mom…became ill with cancer, Auntie lost her chauffeur and resale partner. The sales stopped and the stuff sat. That coupled with a large snow storm, which caused a garage to collapse. She and my mom (in their 80’s) removed all the stuff from the garage and brought it into the already crowded house.
Today, the house is as typical, piled high with stuff and little trails exist for a little, stooped over elderly woman. Safe? Not yet. I-we will get there but it will be hard. I will never get to the point of sorting with her through all the containers and bags inside and the immensely full yard outside.
I must keep the social workers at bay (they came this week, snooping about on a neighbor’s recommendation when they saw her home again). I will do what is right for her. And, unlike before when she would not allow anyone, to include me inside her home, now I’m allowed to just walk in.
I’m reconciled to keeping her happy, loved and safely cluttered until she asks for help, succumbs to my gentle nudges or she passes.