A Little Bit of Everything

How many people have the chance to see every item of clothing they wore as children, every hairbow for their hair, and notes they passed back and forth with friends during church? And to show it to your spouse? One thing I have to say about having parents who hoard – it’s definitely a unique opportunity to revisit your childhood. I had that opportunity again and again Monday and Tuesday in my parents’ living room. My whole childhood is still in that house. The Kelly Kids pink and white striped polo shirt with the watermelon embroidery? Check. The green and white striped dress my aunt sewed me for 4-H? Check. The t-shirt from honor band? Check. It was all there, packed in boxes in front of the fireplace, enveloped in the smell of soot. The usual stacks of papers and magazines were also present, and it took a full nine hours on Monday to throw them away. Occasionally I’d find a picture, magazine, or an article of homework from elementary school that I knew my mom would want to keep, but it was mostly trash. These keeper items only filled two small bags. I found two gift cards that my mom misplaced during Christmas activities. The remote that was lost four months ago was in a sack of trash. Mother helped Tuesday. We found three huge boxes of children’s clothing that she packed up fourteen years ago to get rid of but never did. This seems to be due to a lack of feeling empowered. She’ll ask my dad to take something out of the house, he never gets around to it, and it never crosses her mind that she could just do it herself. She just blames my dad. It’s a hopeless pattern. We vacuumed up dead wasps and spiders (no dead or live lizards, thank goodness!). We went through more papers, magazines, and books. There were two paper sacks of random little toys – the intact ones went to Goodwill. There were more sewing items mixed in as well. She kept things like lace and gave away some patterns to my aunt. I also threw away two decaying speakers next to a broken stereo (didn’t have time to trash the stereo). The only argument we had was over pictures, wedding announcements, and cards. Mom wants to keep these things for acquaintances, not just close family or friends. “I have to keep my pictures,” she said. “Do not throw away my pictures.” She relented on the wedding announcements. We definitely made more progress, and the kitchen was still looking good. The children’s clothing seems to be gone from the living room now, but there are many piles of papers, books, and magazines left. There is also quite a bit of Mom’s clothing, but there’s nowhere to put it until we clean out her closet and my room. I also haven’t mentioned that Dad put a small TV on top of their regular TV when it went out one time – it’s still just sitting there. I’m looking forward to the next trip home to continue.

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2 Responses to A Little Bit of Everything

  1. rosey says:

    And here I thought my parents were the only ones who did that! My mom still comes up with little pieces of crap from my child hood to give me. And I am 49!

  2. I’m dealing with much the same here, but I’m dealing with my own hoarding and trying to sort it out. I have done so much laundry that included not only our own daughters’ clothes from when they were little but also several things that were mine throughout my life. I got rid of well over 75% of the laundry I washed, either by giving it away, donations, or throwing it in the trash, if it didn’t come clean. Much of it has been sorted according to size and packed away in rubber totes, so our oldest can decided, if she wants to use any of it for her kids when the time comes.

    And school papers? Yep. I probably saved every single paper the kids ever brought home from school. I’m working on getting through them and getting rid of them, though, and I’ve gotten rid of a lot of them, but I have boxes and boxes to still sort through. I’m thinking about getting a portable scanner to keep a digital copy of the ones I want to remember. Digital copies will take up SO much less room and won’t get nearly as dusty!

    I know you’re in a rough position trying to help out your folks. Hang in there. It sounds like you’re getting through to them.

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