It is hard for sure. Sometimes these are decisons that require a family member or friend to assist in the process to take the action steps and feel ok afterwards.
We have been clearing away stuff from a bedroom in order to make it our repository for keepers. That particular bedroom has a lot of ticky tacky stuff and it also is quite musty smelling. Plus we have found paperwork that is a momentum killer. Deeds, birth certificates, death certificates, old WWII work letters all stuffed away in this musty smelling room. So we suffered through the smells and eye irritation to read many of the documents.
The intent is to scope out each room and make serious culling down decisions on what we might want to keep and leave the rest for the sale. Yes, there will be adjustments, but self discipline is in order.
This little vase has no markings on it. Inside the vase, my wife found a folded up piece of old paper. Written on it in that slowly written, jaggedy cursive I recognize as my Auntie’s handwriting was the notation “Mom’s Great Grandmothers”. “Mom” was born in 1892. Her Great Grandmother would have been in the Banat region of then Hungary (now Romania). This is an intriguing discovery as I spent several years sorting out the family’s genealogical structure. I imagine “Mom’s” (my GMother) mother, Anna, brought this with her in 1896, when the family left Hungary and made their way to Austria, to Belgium, then board a ship and made their way to the U.S. I know the “Great Grandmother” did not leave the Banat region.
For so long the thought process has mostly been: what is donated, what is sold and at what price to move it, what is trashed. Now the thinking is evolving toward perhaps a more difficult process that challenges one’s pragmatic vs. sentimentality decision making.
We now must deep clean the obvious trash out of the Hoarding House (something we have done countless times, but there is always more as stuff is unwrapped/unboxed).
And, we must decide what to keep for us. Hmm? Everything beneath the Hoarding layers (well even the hoarding layers) had mental worth to my Aunt. Now that we have removed layer upon layer and arrived at the original layer(s) of what she deemed important & valuable, the decision gets harder. For me, not my more pragmatic wife. She is truly tired of keeping stuff just because. In our personal life, these two massive hoarding cleanups has prompted her to be much less sentimental about keeping things. Simplicity is her cornerstone.
I, on the other hand, am struggling with those pesky/dangerous rationales: that’s pretty (its all pretty), that is valuable (its all valuable to someone), that was special to her (it was all special to her)…on and on those kind of mental gymnastics can go and of course you arrive at the conclusion this is not working toward resolution of this mess and likely adding to a new mess (ours) later. Simplicity!
So the process of culling out a very few keepsakes that were special to her as a remembrance and deciding what out of all that stuff is stylishly appealing to us must be done with a harder/harsher/more discerning eye than I’ve been bringing to the Hoarding House. I know I can do this…I mean I just let my 50 y/0 home made weightlifting bench go into the trash and disappear.
A pronounced penchant for my Mom and my Aunt was the retention of old bills and notations from long ago. Rubber banded and boxed or stuffed in drawers or locked away in attaché cases for some reason.
Bag upon bag of such old mail is accumulated and when one looks at the dates (60’s, 70’s), it would be easy enough to toss it along the way. Only the concern for some important, rarely found, document looms in the back of the head.
Yesterday, my wife being dutiful and taking a break, sat and sorted through bags of old mail and made a great discovery (at least in my humble estimation). Amongst many bundles of old envelopes was a bundle of old greeting cards my Aunt had received long ago. How long ago?
Well, there tucked into an old greeting card was a birth announcement: MY BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT! From my Mom to her sister in 1948. How cool is that?! Ok, I’m a bit sentimental.
You never know what treasure you might find hey?! I was a little guy it appears. Also, there are those earlier mentioned attaché/brief cases. Always locked, often heavy. What might this one contain? A cool 100K embezzled long ago? Just joking.
A trail of sorts has been blazed into the ‘Party Room’ in the basement. If you recall I found my Auntie’s wedding gown in a chest in that room. I pushed beyond that point…sounds like I am blazing a path through a jungle with a machete…and found parts of a very retro sectional and a mound of clothing, plastic flowers, bags of towels and more cloth like materials. Pulled back and pulled out to the sides revealed a floor lamp that is just so different from upstairs. Also, lowering (or is it raising) the ceiling by removing all the stacks revealed some old panther prints. My Aunt loved Panthers!
There are different ways of looking at this hoarding mess. I could look at my mom and my aunt and just categorically define them as sick and be done. Not give them any consideration or excuses and be done. Screwed up women. Now let’s cleanup this crap and move on.
Or, I can be like a plastic bag in a windstorm (I just made that up…you can use it too) getting blown here and there and having no sense of stability. Over thinking it all as is my way. That is burdensome, particularly in this instance because I do know the excuses, the legitimate life changing events, and it begs one to explain. But, it is truly an exhausting journey.
In my Aunt’s case, I just am so struck by the contrasts of styles of possessions and how it evolved away into clutter and even mucky filth. As we excavate into the house, into the rooms the outer layers buried by the stuff reveal such beauty and refinement. My mom strove for this. My aunt achieved this. Some how she managed to bury away her displays of beauty in her home and in her self.
In the end, I will remember the woman dying. No stuff. No burdens beyond knowing she was dying. Only her right before me. Reconnecting with love and warmth. That is what I will focus upon as I continue to bump up against stuff, why’s and what’s.
With the recent focus on the family pet and temperatures in the mid 90’s and for the next few days in the 100’s (the house has no air and is stuff/only a few windows open) and the carport/patio/garage acting like an oven…we have not done much this week at the hoarding house.
Watering flowers early or late, taking a few personal treasures of my Aunt’s to mail to a distant family member, sorting a bit of this and that has been the extent of it. Too distracted, too much heat. Also, the basement is getting quite musty smelling so I must find a dehumidifier asap to capture the moisture. The pup coming home from surgery (probably this weekend) will require immediate care for the next few weeks so that will require coverage at home, while someone works at the hoarding house. With me working and involved in projects there, this will require a lot of late night work. Working there alone at night has been a bit daunting for some.
So, the previously selected mid September sale dates is a month out or less. We have lost about a week. But, I think we have a good buffer even with the puppy rehab. Some Team members are positioned to help a few evenings too.
The internet installation has been pushed back a week. Time has not allowed for clearing out a large area where they could access for installation purposes. Again, we are getting it for easier research for items. Tedious looking on a 2″ phone vs. a 17″ laptop.