Hoarding Woes: Photographs & A Fire In the Belly

My aunt wearing her 'hank of hair' while looking at the pictures of her home and yard. My mom called her own wig, a 'hank of hair'. Why my disdain for a wig? No clue. Something akin to a toupee, a man with a hair dye job that only betrays the age of his face. I don't know. It doesn't matter. Her dignity to look as she wishes.

I pulled up to the care facility with the interior Christmas lights shining bright outward into the chilly night. Inviting. I entered the house and found my aunt seated at the dining room table. The care giver’s grandchildren were playing on the floor by the decorated tree. My aunt and another lady resident visited away.

My aunt sat there with her wig swimming wildly about her head. Her cheeks appeared flushed. She had resorted to the old touch of lipstick on her cheeks rubbed in like a touch of rouge. Garish and disappointing. None of my business, but disappointing.

She packed and unpacked and repacked waiting for me to take her home. The impetus for this? The pictures I had brought to rekindle her long time memories. She has been steady of late, but that drive to go home and see her stuff has been reignited. What to do?

Steady as she goes. Nothing to do. She does want those darn metallic Christmas trees from that back room. As I looked at the pics of her yard, a wonderful yard, I noticed one pic that caught a glimpse of the enclosed back patio, enclosed by heavy black plastic/tarps. The pictures were taken in 1983. So, that rigged up storage area suggests to me that my aunt had been storing stuff back there for at least 26 years. The back yard succumbed to the additional stuff later.

The contrasting realities: my aunt eager to be home and sorting through a never ending line of boxes and bags in a couple rooms. Rearranging and sorting. While beyond her view, her range, stuff sits rotting, stinking and degrading a neighborhood. Smells, sights…the mental assault upon neighbors was addressed this Summer. Something my aunt would never have commenced or allowed to flow toward any success.

My aunt can look at all the pictures and reminisce of her palace as it was before she smothered it with stuff. Dealing with dementia and the split personality has been difficult to say the least. Dealing with a hoarder in the flesh is, for me, far more troublesome. Dementia at its worst, agitated and angry, is the eventual sustained norm when dealing with a hoarder in conflict. 



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