And Speaking of Hoarding
Along the lines of my topic yesterday about Extreme Couponing comes today’s topic. Hoarding. TLC must be making a fortune on their show Hoarders: Buried Alive. I know many people who watch it, TIVO or DVR it and talk about it. Terry and I have seen the show a few times at Casa Coleman, it seems to be one of their favorite shows that is not a home renovation program.
To my horror, appalled amusement, dismay and disgust, Mama’s house looked EXACTLY like the episodes I’ve seen of Hoarders. When we were kids the Payne Family functions were always at our house. When my aunt Karen moved to DWG (Dalworthington Gardens) in the late 70s/early 80s her house became the gathering place but our smaller gathering of The Boys and their families and me and mine continued to be at Mama’s house. The last time we had Christmas at her house was 1990. When she abandoned the house in 1996 the Christmas tree was still in the living room from the Christmas of ’90 but no longer standing upright. It has been knocked over but there was so much junk around it that it didn’t fall to the ground. It was sitting at a 45º angle to the floor on top of other stuff.
Mama was never a great housekeeper but my dad is almost a neat freak so she worked hard to keep him happy. Once she started teaching full time she had me do many things to keep the house tidy and clean. Clutter bugs me. I used to call my mom the Clutter Queen but eventually I realized it wasn’t just clutter. She was hoarding things. She would collect newspapers for recycling (piles and piles of them) but never take them to the recycler. She kept and collected the rolls paper towels and toilet paper come on for art projects but seldom used them.
The house at 1600 eventually had a path you could walk to from her bedroom down the hall to the bathroom and past the bathroom through the living room into the kitchen and the one (of three) back doors from which she could actually use. I couldn’t get into the attic as the attic stairs could not be pulled down into the hall. Her path was not as wide as the stairs. Her bedroom had a foot of room to walk in and sort of climb on to the bed (which had stuff stacked on the side she didn’t use). You stood on a foot of stuff to look into the closet.
In 1998 when she moved from one apartment to another the grandchildren (plus the boyfriends of the two oldest) tossed out almost everything in the apartment and packed up a few things that needed to move with her. They found a dead/decomposed animal under the bed. To this day they are all 9 remain convinced it was the dog Mama thought had runaway the previous year.
Katie began to visit Mama on Sundays her last year in high school. Katie would tidy up on Sundays and because she knew there was going to be someone keeping her accountable she was able to keep her hoarding in check. For that entire year Mama’s apartment stayed in control. Then Katie went to away to college and Mama’s illness got the best of her again.
Even her classrooms were affected by hoarding. When she taught preschool one stuffed Barney wasn’t enough. She had to have 10. When she retired from the Arlington ISD I made 6 trips in a fully loaded Suburban and trailer between Kooken and 1600 clearing out her classroom. Terry and I could never convince her to sell or give away any of that stuff.
People cleaned out her homes on at least 3 occasions. Without professional help to defeat the depression/illness/whatever that caused her hoarding within weeks it was back to its former self. Part of the reason she had an efficiency apartment at Arlington Plaza was David’s theory that if she didn’t have much room she couldn’t/wouldn’t get it messy. It didn’t actually work but I was able to keep her tendencies in check to a bearable level. Dementia patients also have hoarding tendencies so once the illness took over it became ever harder to keep up with her.
TLC is making money on the illnesses of others. I’m grateful they have medical professionals working with the people on their shows something my mom never got because she wouldn’t allow us to get her help. I hope the TLC people have better luck with the help they are getting and giving.
Posted on April 11, 2011, in Absurdities, Family, Health, Just Me, Old Memories/Stories, Posting 365 and tagged Health, Kids and Cousins, Mama Max, postaday, The Boys. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.