Saturday, January 15, 2011

You Can't Take It With You

I get a call from a funeral director.  "Her family had reported her missing and the police even did a search of the house, but no-one knew where she'd gone for two weeks.  Then the daughter found her under a pile of newspapers in the back room where she must have fallen while looking for something."

Don't be this person.  I've had people fall and roll under couches, I've had people have heart attacks and expire behind stacks of Reader's Digest magazines - every issue since since 1984.

This is especially true if you live alone.

I understand that every home has it's fair share of detritus and that people have connections to other people and the past.  It is important to keep your grandmother's jewellery and if her orange and brown crockpot is still in good working order, go for it.  But use it or get rid of it.  And put her jewellery in a safety deposit box at the bank, except for a piece or two that you will actually wear.

Right now I'm out in the country in a very large, very new house filled with unplugged computers, boxes that haven't been open since 1993, biscuit tins containing tool parts and you can't eat at the dining table because it's full of Stuff.  My boyfriend's parents are massive hoarders.  There is a vague intention to tidy, catalogue and label.  It's crazy (driving ME crazy) but not unsalvageable.  At least the building itself is new and structurally sound, plus they're still in good health.  There is still hope.

Further down the slippery slope however, lies a friend who lives in the crumbling wreck of her father's old house.  There are various issues with his Estate that need sorting out, but in the meanwhile she lives in a home where you can see the stumpwork through holes in the bathroom floor.
You cannot see the floor in her bedroom however, because of The Stuff covering it.  In the bed itself you'll find everything from books to candy to knives and about half of all the underwear she owns.
It's a frightening combination of  shrine to the dead (his old books and furniture are still there) and a college frat house.

  • Don't hold onto other lives that aren't yours.
  • Don't confuse getting possessions with getting a life.
  • And if you have to walk sideways down the hall because of The Stuff, and if guests have to clear away small mountains of The Stuff before they sit down - you have let The Stuff take over your life and this is Not Good.

So yes, I know you love your grandmother and her things mean a lot to you.
But please, please do not keep her ageing issues of Reader's Digest magazine.
Because you know, one day you'll have a heart attack too.    

~ Useful ~

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