Wednesday, August 5, 2009

a true story of horrid hoarding

I just finished reading a series of four (plus a follow-up) of the most riveting posts I've seen in the blogosphere. Written by Ronni Bennett, who authors the blog Time Goes By, these four pieces about the paternal grandmother who was a stranger to her explore the clutter of a troubled mind and what grew from keeping too many of one thing in particular, secrets, which led to clutter you have to read about to believe.

This marvelously-written series affected me deeply. I choose to keep my words minimal so you might find time to explore what Ronni has shared.

The Terrible, Lonely Death of an Old, Old Woman -- Part 1

The Terrible, Lonely Death of an Old, Old Woman -- Part 2

The Terrible, Lonely Death of an Old, Old Woman -- Part 3

The Terrible, Lonely Death of an Old, Old Woman -- Part 4

The Terrible, Lonely Death of an Old, Old Woman -- A Follow-Up

art by Matt Muhurin


Phivos Nicolaides said...

Interesting and Kiitos for recommending it. I'll try to read it later.

Carlos Lorenzo said...

I haven't read it, to be honest. But I see it has to do with compulsive hoarding disorder. I've always wondered how you can get to such strange circumstances. I liked the old photograph of Hazel.

secret, fragile skies said...

Great blog. I collect...books, clippings, too much. More will follow as I just copied your "favorite book" list. The stories in Time Goes By (the entire blog) broke my heart and reminded me of this:

In Clean Start, an article in the NY Times, September 24, 2000, Arthur Lidz is interviewed by his nephew, Franz Lidz.
Since I was 15, I've saved all kinds of stuff: bureau handles, small bottles, marbles, mirrors, nuts, screws, wire, cord, bathtub stoppers, mothballs, empty cigarette packs, frying pans, pencils that say different things on them, trusses, parking tickets. In 1997, my brother Harry, with whom I lived, slipped on some of my papers and got brought to a nursing home. The social worker wouldn't let him come back unless I got rid of my collections. So I bought a bus pass and visited him once a week. He died last year at 85. If he'd had a hobby like me, he might have lived longer. I liked living in my junk, and I always knew where everything was. In the living room, the junk came up to about my chest. In the bedroom, it wasn't too bad; it just came up to my knees. I made paths to get around. It made me feel important. But I guess I overdid it. The landlord wanted me to get rid of my junk. A third of my neighbors wouldn't talk to me. I suspected I might get evicted. So this summer I had to let my junk go.

My nephew cleaned it out with some friends of his. It took 10 days. I wasn't there. When I came back, I was disappointed. I thought more stuff would be saved. I had an empty feeling, like I was robbed. I lost memories of my four brothers and my mother. But things happen -- what can you do? I'm too old to worry anymore. All that's left is my necktie collection and my cat, Wagging. The emptiness is a little hard to get used to. For one thing, the traffic noise is very loud now. And I feel hollow. My junk was sort of a freedom. I put so much work into saving -- years and years -- and it's suddenly gone. It's like somebody had died, a fire or an earthquake. It's like the change from hot to cold water. I may start saving certain things, like books, but I don't go out as much as I used to, so I can't collect as much. From now on, I'll have fewer hobbies.

"Samuel Beckett said art's purpose was to fill an empty space. I guess that was Uncle Arthur's purpose, too." When writer Franz Lidz cleared out his Uncle Arthur's one-bedroom home in New York a year ago, he filled 417 large rubbish bags on the first day. It took four men six days to clear the rest, and four days to fumigate the place. For the first time in 20 years, the bedroom was accessible. "They threw away my stuff!" says Uncle Arthur Lidz, 86 years old and 5ft tall. "I'm still mad at them."

Lydia said...

@Phivos- It's a long series. Maybe you will find some time for it (it's worth it).

@Carlos- I liked the photo too. We have a sense of who she was early on from it.

@secret, fragile skies- Thank you for visiting this blog of mine. It pleases me that you like it. Believe me, I in no way have my clutter organized yet. This blog is helping, but I long for one of those "coaches" you can hire to come in and organize.
Thanks too for giving Ronni's great blog posts a read.

"Clean Start" is a new resource to me...I'll check to see what it is. The excerpts you included here absolutely punctuate the problem, and still leave me wondering if that kind of routing is the best solution for the elderly. One of the reasons I have so much stuff is because I inherited my mother's furniture and household items/lifetime memories after her death in 2000. While she was ill I approached her with the idea of allowing me to begin organizing, as long as I was there with her anyway. She looked crestfallen, and I realized then it was going to be something to attend to after her death.

I'm honored that you copied my book list. I picked up A Mass for the Dead one night last week just to read the first few pages, to take a dip into Gibson's prose. It was a dive instead and I'm now reading it again, third time. Can't decide, but either A Mass for the Dead or Speak, Memory by Nabokov is my favorite book.

Beth Niquette said...

Good gravy! EEEEEeeeeeeek! (gulp) What an interesting post!

Lydia said...

Question: where did you find the ingredients to make gravy?!