Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Very Wordy Wednesday: A letter to Ms. S.

This is a letter i'd love to be able to send to my Monday client, Ms. S.   Of course, i never will, but i have to get it out.

Dear Ms. S,

Please note that this comes from my heart, and from my desire for good things to happen for you.

You are a hoarder, and you are deluded.

Now don't misunderstand the word "deluded."  Every human on earth is deluded in the same way, we all suffer from it.  Scientists have studied it, and even those who have experimented and proven it know that they suffer from this delusion and have to fight it.  It is the delusion that, in the future, we will have more.  More time, more money, more.

We won't.  You won't.

Leonardo DaVinci, arguably the most intelligent person ever, suffered from it, and using him as an illustration will show what i mean.  He kept writing implements with him at all times (no mean feat in those days) so he could take notes on anything he saw that interested him.  He filled notebook after notebook, always intending "later" to take the time to organize them.

There wasn't a later, of course.  There was always too much interesting going on now, always more to learn and see and observe, so the "later" never came.  He never got to the place in his life where he had plenty of leisure, spare time just to go back through and organize his notes.

We won't have more time later.  If we haven't invested properly, we won't somehow, magically, have more money later.   It's the trap that gets people into long term debt with what is supposed to be a short-term payday loan.  There won't be more money and fewer bills next month.

The delusion of "later" is part of the human condition.

How does this apply to you?

You won't have time later to go through those boxes of bills from 20 years ago, or even from last year.  You won't ever come to a time when you have nothing better to do with your time than go through boxes.

Unless you make a concerted effort to stop, now, and begin to spend some time every single day on it, maybe while watching your story on TV, you won't get through them.

You won't get through the piles and boxes that are everywhere else, either.

Yes, you are a hoarder.  Your home could be on the show.  Please don't think i'm judging you in any way, i am heavy on the pack rat scale myself and have to fight hoarding tendencies.  Trust me, if i turn my back for a moment, i could easily sink into the behaviors that lead to a house like yours.  It's the reason i offered to help you at your home, because it doesn't offend me, i'm not disgusted by it, i understand how it happens and how hard the fight and i even belong to a group that is nothing but people like us who are fighting not to become hoarders or who are fighting our way out of hoarding.

What i'm going to say now is what i've learned that comes from being in that group. 

No, keeping the dance clothing from all those years ago doesn't mean you will dance again.  You won't, i am certain.  Your smoking and COPD have made it so that, instead of being the owner of a dance studio, you shuffle and sometimes need assistance walking.  That's something i will come back to later.

Yes, i understand the tendency to want to hold on.  As long as the guy who was a jock in high school keeps that old football jersey, he can imagine himself as still the great guy who ran for the touchdown and won the game.  So he keeps it even until he can barely walk.  But he keeps that one thing, not hundreds.

You keep hundreds.  You keep closets full of clothes you won't ever wear again.  You have me packing more winter clothes than one person can wear into boxes to be stored for next winter, when we may or may not be able to find them with all the other stuff piled on top.

You have more handbags than i can count, and you want them stored just so on a top shelf of a closet in a home that has bugs and dust and dirt and so many things are deteriorating that i don't think they will be good for anything in a few years.  The same goes for shoes.

You think that your kitchen looks bad because the grout is discolored, so you have me moving piles of junk, bleaching the grout, and then moving the stuff back into that same place.  It's not the grout that makes it look this way, it's the tons of stuff, mixed with dust and sometimes bugs.  Yes, i can clean, and i do because i want you to have as clean a place as i can give you, but white grout won't make a hoarded kitchen look better.

You live in fear.  You fear losing control, losing the ability to go through everything, to sort it all out, to get it organized.  (On that note, you can't organize it, you don't have enough room in your home for all of it.)  You are terrified that one day your son and his wife will go through it all and just throw it all away.

He loves you very much, by the way, and hates to see you live like this.  He wants me to help you clean up and clear out and organize what you do want to keep.  He is a typical cleanie who does not get that hoarders have to want to recover.  He thinks you should be doing the regular housekeeping/cleaning chores and you should be using me each week to throw things out and donate stuff and get the rest organized.  He doesn't understand that you have become so physically frail (yes, i overheard the phone conversation where you told someone your doctor now suspects Parkinson's disease) that you cannot scrub your tub or do the cleaning that i do.

He doesn't get it, and he won't, and what you fear the most is that someday he and his wife will come in, back a dumpster up to the door, and just clear the place.

It terrifies you, and yet, because you won't face that you won't have more time later to take care of it, that's exactly what's going to happen.

There are a couple of possible endings to this story.  The easiest is that you pass away peacefully in your sleep and your son clears the place out and you never know it.  No, i don't want to lose you and your friendship and your insights at Bible study, but that really would be the kindest thing if it happened that way.

The other ending is the one you are so scared of, and it's the more probable.  You end up needing a cane or walker or wheelchair, and not just needing the cane for a week or two like after your last surgery, but forever.  Your home is in a condition where you cannot walk in some areas if you have to use any type of assistance device.  (Some rooms are so bad you won't go in them even now, you have me go in and box things, remember, because you are too big a fall risk to go in there.)

Once you come to where you cannot get along without a walker or wheelchair, your son will have no choice but to put you into assisted living of some kind, and he and his wife will have to deal with the house, and you will resent them for it, and hate them for it, but mostly it will be that you hate yourself for letting it get that way and you will be taking it out on them.

They don't deserve that, and neither do you.

You are a sweet, precious soul, and i want better for you.

The only way it will change, though, is if you decide that you want better for you, that you don't need to hold on to 37 flower vases that never see the light of day, that clear floor space is better than boxes full of tools you will never use again, that you are worth more.

You are.


Today is:

Best Friends Day -- as declared by the ecard people

Bounty Anniversary Day -- Norfolk Island (celebrates the arrival of the Bounty descendants from Pitcairn Island)

Career Nursing Assistants' Day

Clean Air Day -- Canada

Coal Miner Days -- Sparwood, BC, Canada (festival and fun! through Sunday)

Duanwu Jie -- China; Hong Kong; Macao[Tung Ng]; Taiwan (Dragon Boat Festival Days, today and tomorrow, in which spectacularly decorated boats loaded with rowers and drums race)

Feast of Bona Mens -- Ancient Roman Calendar (goddess of right thinking, the personification of the mind)

Glenn Miller Birthplace Society Festival -- Clarinda, IA, US (come celebrate the music of an era; through Sunday)

Judgement Day -- Fairy Calendar (The Good and Evil are given their just rewards)

Lindisfarne Day -- Asatru/Slavic Pagan (commemorating the Viking raid on Lindisfarne in 793)

Name Your Poison Day -- just another wacky holiday with no explanations

National Caribbean-American Health and Aids Awareness Day -- with events all over the US
National Jelly-Filled Doughnut Day

National Time Out Day -- US, sponsored by The Association of Operating Room Nurses, which want everyone involved in surgeries to take time out before the procedure to verify the surgery site, type, and patient and decrease OR errors

Old Fort Days and Billy the Kid Tombstone Race -- Fort Sumner, NM, US (fun for all, including a rodeo, dance, demonstrations by Native Americans, and a race through an obstacle course carrying an 80lb tombstone! through Sunday)

Primoz Trubar Day -- Slovenia (birth anniversary of the author of the first Slovene language books and consolidated the Slovene language)

St. Medard's Day (Patron of brewers, captives, imprisoned people, mentally ill people, peasants, prisoners, vineyards; for good harvests, good weather, and rain; against bad weather, imprisonment, sterility, and toothache) related event:
     Festival of the Rose -- Salency, France (on St. Medard's Day, and supposedly begun by that saint before the year 545)

Superman Celebration -- Metropolis, IL, US (only in Metropolis, right? through Sunday)

The National Tournament -- Spruce Meadows, Calgary, AB, Canada (features the Spruce Meadows Show Jumping Championship and the Nexen Cup, with live entertainment and activities daily; through Sunday)

Upsy Daisy Day -- the day to remind people to get up joyfully and gratefully each morning (tell that to my sleep-til-noon family!)

Vacuum Cleaner Day -- Ives W. McGaffee obtained a patent on this day in 1869 for the first carpet cleaner that worked on a vacuum principle

Watch Day -- the sign that you are over 30, you still wear a watch!

World Brain Tumor Day -- International

World Oceans Day

Anniversary Today:

Christopher O'Neill marries Princess Madeleine of Sweden, 2013

Birthdays Today:

Kim Clijsters, 1983
Kayne West, 1977
Julianna Margulies, 1966
Keenen Ivory Wayans, 1958
Scott Adams, 1957
Tim Berners-Lee, 1955
Griffin Dunne, 1955
Kathy Baker, 1950
Sara Paretsky, 1947
Boz Scaggs, 1944
Don Grady, 1944
Andrew Weil, MD, 1942
Nancy Sinatra, 1940
Bernie Casie, 1939
James Darren, 1936
Joan Rivers, 1933
Jerry Stiller, 1927
Barbara Bush, 1925
Robert Preston, 1918
Byron Raymond White, 1917
Francis Crick, 1916
Frank Lloyd Wright, 1867

Debuting/Premiering Today:

Trading Places(Film), 1983
Malaeska; The Indian Wife of the White Hunter(First "dime novel", Publication date), 1860

Today in History:

Vikings raid the abbey at Lindisfarne in Northumbria, commonly accepted as the beginning of the Scandinavian invasion of England, 793
Richard the Lionheart's Crusade begins with his arrival at Acre, 1191
American attackers are driven back at Trois-Rivières, Quebec, 1776
The volcano Laki, in Iceland, begins an eight-month eruption which kills over 9,000 people and starts a seven-year famine, 1783
Mr. Hall of NYC advertises the first commercially made ice cream, 1786
Ives W McGaffey of Chicago patents the first vacuum cleaner, 1869
Herman Hollerith receives a patent for his punched card calculator, 1887
Theodore Roosevelt signs the Antiquities Act into law, authorizing the President to restrict the use of certain parcels of public land with historical or conservation value, 1906
Carl Laemmle incorporates Universal Pictures, 1912
Milton Berle hosts the debut of Texaco Star Theater, 1948
The United States Supreme Court rules that Washington, D.C. restaurants could not refuse to serve black patrons, 1953
The first World Ocean Day is celebrated, coinciding with the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1992
The first Transit of Venus since 1882 takes place, 2004
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, is hit by the State's worst storms and flooding in 30 years, 2007
Australia bans live cattle exports to Indonesia for up to six months in response to reports of cruel treatment at Indonesian slaughterhouse, 2011


  1. oh oh oh the THINGS (literal and metaphorical) you must see each day.
    People's homes are an oasis and crazy places :-)

  2. Mrs. C suffers from this disease, but she fights it and keeps it under control. It is a disease, without an easy cure.

    You seem to be handling it in the nicest way possible.

  3. This is hard to read. I have way more books than I can possibly read, but I dread throwing them out or giving them away. A good reminder to keep from aquisition because it's very hard to give it all away.

  4. Good points made. Are you sure she won't see it? People have a way of spreading news to people.

  5. I'm not a saver and I feel for people who are. I'm pushing the kids to move their stuff out. One down three to go. They collect stuff in a way I never have. I've even gotten rid of some books.

  6. I'm so glad I'm not a hoarder or a collector like my mother was. Bless you for trying to help this person, you can only do what you can do, and that isn't much really when it comes to a hoarder. I wish you good luck.

  7. it is an illness, for sure. progressed this far, there is little one can do to change it, i'm afraid.

  8. I think I was on my way to becoming a hoarder, but lately we've been cutting back and eliminating things. On our last vacation the only souvenir we bought was a Christmas tree ornament.

  9. I can't even imagine. My dear mom is coming close - as we discovered in their recent move where she just can't let some stuff go. Their new home is still cluttered. And then there's me who cannot stand a cluttered house. If I didn't have kids, there would only be furniture here! LOL

  10. Wow, I don't know how I missed this one, but it is powerful, and convicting. Your words are written in kindness and caring and you speak the truth!


Thanks for meandering by and letting me know you were here!