Whoa…Are We Hoarders?

Leak Tank

Two days ago, we realized our water heater, our old water heater, had ruptured and flooded the garage. I mean what harm can 66 gallons and an open water line do? Stored in that garage, the garage that no car has ever been parked in…stored around a tent trailer and a large weight machine…are the accumulations of 17 years. 

When we moved into our existing home, we came from a larger home with much storage into a smaller home with minimal storage. Seemed manageable at the time. But, years later with our stuff and now storing our kids stuff, our home takes on a different look.

The kids are gone yet their stuff remains. Their bedrooms retain their stuff. The living room now holds all my daughter’s stuff post graduation. The garage retains a great deal of my son’s stuff.

wet box gnomes
A very wet box full of keepsakes. The Gnomes wondered if rescue was likely.

In spending many hours yesterday filling garbage bags and garbage cans with the sopping wet  stuff, my mind clashed with the visuals. For so many years, it seems, we have spent our free time cleaning up after two women that hoarded it all. Yesterday, and this morning, I have to be honest that a lot of what has been stored in the garage and retained has not been touched, if seen, in years.

tooth gnomes
As I rescued the Gnomes, I came upon the little glassine envelope with my son’s first lost tooth from long ago. Long forgotten, tucked away in a box, in a garage, on the floor.

One has to let the mind go there. One has to ask that hard, sobering question: Am I-We hoarding stuff? 

On a bright note, the Nasturtium seeds I planted are sprouting and the colors  of the Fuchsia lift the spirits at the Hoarding House.

Nat StartsFucshia

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10 thoughts on “Whoa…Are We Hoarders?

  1. You aren’t like your mom and aunt – you know what real hoarding is. However, sometimes we get complacent about keeping things organized and culling from time to time. You’ve had a very full last few years, so take the water heater leak as a convenient way to do a major cleanup. A hoarder would have turned off the water but never cleaned up the wet boxes.
    My husband’s aunt (whom I adopted as a MIL after his mom died) has a rule for her kids: 7 years of storage for their stuff, and then if they didn’t come and take it away, she donated/discarded it.

    1. You are right, of course, and thanks as always for commenting. Also, thanks for the momentum and wisdom of your site. Your commitment is worthy and inspiring.

  2. I think hoarding is a matter of degree. If we can control the amount of stuff we keep and review periodically then it is under control. If there is insufficient space, as in the home I have retired to, then we need to reduce the amount of stuff to the space available and decide what we use and what we just keep because if inertia.

    I continue to try to cull the things I have to make room jfor new things or just to make more space for better organization. The hardest part for me is the mountains of paper records for myself and my parents. Some day I need to sit down with a shredder and eliminate the things that don’t need to be kept any longer. It all takes time though, and sometimes there isn’t a lot of time available!

  3. I can relate to a lot of what you wrote as I have worked with people like yourself where a tragedy -water leak, sewer back up forces a cleanup and disposal of many items, possessions. Emotional heart break to say the least.

  4. annietiques

    I know exactly what your going thru……have my 32 year old daughter’s stuff, including her X-mas tree that makes a yearly trip to her apartment in New Jersey, my son’s stuff, including 5 or 6 guitars, amps, etc. AND all my granddaughter’s toys and clothes!!! We would be fine if we could get all their stuff out of here!!!

    Had a torential rain several years ago that dumped water in our basement; reminds me to check on what is being stored there……last time was not fun!!!

    Imagine if you were older, had cut yourself off from family and friends…..and your water heater had given out………you would be in the same position as your Mom & Auntie (or at least the very beginnings of their situation!)

  5. Bonnie

    I’m the opposite of a hoarder……..always culling. I appreciate gifts from my students for a bit, write loving thank you notes, and then they go right into a box in the garage for Goodwill so someone else can enjoy them, too. (My close friend cleaned out her elderly mom’s home and she had an entire closet full of teacher gifts, still!) Very therapeutic to have everything all in a row. Any-whoooo…….I concur with TC! Sorry it’s causing you extra work, though! Re: Shredding documents. During the winter I like to just chuck papers into the fireplace for the next fire. Lots quicker than shredding large amounts. Just a thought.

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