170 What Were They Thinking?

Mom wrote an apology letter, probably some time before she died. She knew that she was leaving the project for others. And she also told me directly that once she was facing the extent of her pancreatic cancer, the psychological hoarding increased. Mom and Dad hoarded. Functionally hoarded.

Kwami and Nyasha were under the house yesterday, accomplishing stuff.  Under.  Through a trap door.  Below the floor.  Kwami handed up gallon after gallon of water… and garbage, a stack of old vents and rings and furnacey stuff.

It brought back that inner sigh.  I feel more “push” to get the space cleaned up and cleared out.  And there are always surprises.  When I think I know what is left, another nook or cranny unearths more miscellaneous items to think about, to sort, to discard.  My mind jumps to the phrase, “What were they thinking?”  

When I moved into Dad’s house, the full intention was to prepare it for the possibility of sale, if it had to happen.  

Jan did so much sorting and discarding back when she moved in.  It was miraculous for me!  But it was a terrible mountain for her.  She never complained.  I am complaining for her. 

Mom wrote an apology letter, probably some time before she died.  She knew that she was leaving the project for others.  And she also told me directly that once she was facing the extent of her pancreatic cancer, the psychological hoarding increased.  Mom and Dad hoarded.  Functionally hoarded.  They had space to store stuff and still live without it affecting their existence. Two bedrooms were packed to the gills (where did that idiom come from?).  The garage, two storage sheds, the attic… apparently a little trash and water in the crawl space.

What were they thinking?  

It is something about the brain.  It is said that children of the war time acquired this.  During the war, it was hard to get what one needed, and so the thought of having things stored, on hand, was built into the strategy for survival.  But the brain continued that thinking on past the sensible timeline.  

And in my parents case, they were not organized enough to access what was stored.  So, as I sort, there are probably more than 20 saws in the garage, found in as many locations.  Before I pared down, the shed stored six or seven of each type of yard tool (because Mom and Dad kept the ones the grandparents left behind).  Oddly, not as many redundant wrenches turned up.  I think Dad’s hand tools have more reasonable numbers because he DID know where they were, and he did have his own form or organization for that which was important to him.

I am going to do a load for the dump.  We have literally taken full loads, numbering to the teens now.  At one point I hired a hauling company, who transported a dump truck load of the enormous stuff.  Many trips to the toxics site, several to take donations, one full load gifted to an antique store, numerous to the recycle center.  

Mark would tease our parents, “When you die, we will just hire a truck and haul it away.”  Who knew that it could be truck after truck after truck?   I am pretty sure that everything I own will fit into one truck.  One trip. I hope

Author: Michele Plumb Stowell

Michele Stowell was a teacher, a hand holder, and encouraging voice. Born an early Gen Xer, she has lived in Western Washington for the duration. Her children, two spectacular genetic daughters and an uncountable number of marvelous scout and school sons and daughters, shine as her biggest impact and her greatest blessing. Just before her 54th birthday, Michele was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Her writing and art work are expressions of the drama and the joy of living earth bound. On October 24, 2021, Michele was released from her physical body, transported to continue her work on other realms.

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