I’m getting into my late 30s and, only as of today, I officially have a will in place. It’s been a long-standing joke of ours at home that D. and I got married because I didn’t have a will. After months of being ill, we decided it was the wise thing to do. At least legally he would have some say in making life decisions with me, and we already owned a house together anyway. So we tied the knot at the courthouse, took our witnesses to a fancy dinner, and I threw up everything I had eaten. And so it went for several months, a few trips to the emergency room, multiple tests and scans, a surgery, and so forth until we discovered that it was a medicine I had been taking all of that time that was causing the problems. D. stood by me, held me, helped me out of bed to go to the bathroom, fed me endless quantities of cream-of-chicken soup, and always made sure there was someone to take care of me if he couldn’t. He was (and is) my hero. Even when we had our daughter together, I was never very worried about leaving everything in his hands. But the nagging thought of “what if we both die together” imposed some sense into me and more than a year after consulting with a lawyer, I finally used an online company, dragged it out still further, and got the damned thing signed in front of witnesses this morning.
Then I dropped D. off at home and headed to the hospital for more tests today – thankfully for something much less disruptive to our lives this time. When I pulled into the parking lot I had a warm rush of nostalgia. This is the hospital where our daughter was born, and although I’ve been there for so many worrisome reasons in the past, now all my thoughts were about the many baby classes we attended and the hospital room where we got to know S. for the first time, my mother doing a cross-word puzzle in the window overlooking our university’s football stadium, the extremely cold-snap we were having at the time, D. with a wounded leg propped up, me with a gash in my belly from the Cesarean … It all sounds so romantic in retrospect.
As I checked myself into the radiology department today I remembered signing our living wills together in one of those offices before we were wed. That felt like a bigger commitment to me than the house. I give you my love, but also the right to take me off of life support. And now it’s summed up in a tidy but legally binding document.
It’s a balmy beautiful spring day with first flowers and greening grass; pollen lies heavily on the pavement. Somehow I feel unable to leave this place that inspires so much memory, yet thankful that I will, thankful to acknowledge what’s good here today and for the last six years.
Posted in hoarding identity, memory hoarding
Tagged baby, balmy, flower, hospital, ill, memory, mother, nostalgia, romantic, spring, thankful, wed, will
We made a very quick visit to my parents’ home on Friday and Saturday and I’m still unable to process much of what we witnessed. It is only the third time in the last five years that we’ve been there, and the distance makes their home all the more startling. I can safely respond to my own questions that, no, my memory has not exaggerated the state of their hoarding. New to me, however, is the understanding that my step-mother participates in the hoarding as much as she claims she detests it. As D. put it, maybe she criticizes the clutter as a way of defending herself or removing herself from it. I could plainly see in the piles of things many items that my father did not collect.
In addition to what I saw, I remained mindful that we were visiting the house in its very best state. I know my step-mom had been cleaning at least all that day if not for days. Many of the piles in plain sight were very neatly stacked and dusted.
As soon as we arrived and my step-mother took our daughter for a few minutes, I ran around the house frantically snapping pictures before I could get caught. The garage and basement were barricaded, but I was at least able to open doors, if not walk into the spaces themselves. A new cat is now living in the garage, the guest bedroom is completely inaccessible (I had intended to photograph the inside of the massive closet that I presume to still be full of magazines), and the office has only a narrow diagonal path from the door to the desk. That room used to be a usable family area with a fold out couch. I was unable to photograph the numerous barbecue grills and trucks and and and …. in the yard. And as startling as all of it is, the houses around my parents’ are also filled to the gills with cluttered porches and yards and rundown facades. It almost seems to be a prerequisite to country living in “those parts.”
cat in the garage
How I got out of that place before the hoard set in, or if the hoard began because my brothers and I were no longer there, I do not know. I know my parents would be horrified to know that I’m posting this, and it would hurt them deeply to be exposed in such a way. I have found the photographs helpful in numerous ways. I did not have time to really “see” while snapping them. Now, in the comfort of our empty-ing home, I can see the individual items that compile the stacks of stuff. I recognize odd objects from my past, and I can plainly see where the inability to declutter can lead. Numerous times, unprompted, my parents said they were working on getting rid of things. There was apparently a “huge bonfire” last summer, with their stuff going up in smoke. There is some will on their part to part with what they have so they might have more freedom to move or travel. But for every little acknowledgment, there is also new stuff coming in all the time.
We were exhausted by the time we came home yesterday afternoon, and the recovery from the memory may take a few days. I hope to be able to use more images as I process what we witnessed.
Posted in hoarding identity, hoarding roots
Tagged barbecue, barricaded, basement, cat, clean, clutter, exposed, garage, grill, hoard, horrified, horror, hurt, inaccessible, magazine, photo, pile, responsible, see, sight, smoke, stuff, will, witnessed