Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Cluttered Lesson

I read a story today about a man who died of dehydration in his own home. Seems he kept ten years of garbage inside his house, stacked ten feet to the ceiling and had an elaborate system of tunnels going through the stacks but had become disoriented and lost.

My mother was a packrat. She not only kept old things for years, she even bought new things, wrapped them in plastic and kept them without using them for years. Although she put off having gall bladder surgery for nearly 30 years, she still purchased silk pajamas and exquisite, quilted bedjackets "for when I go to the hospital". In the end, she had laparoscopy which entailed only one night's stay rather than the extended stay that the old-fashioned procedure required. When she passed on, there were still elegant nightwear items, pressed and neatly folded in plastic bags tucked into her bureau.

I confess to having my own pack rat tendencies, especially when it comes to clothing. I realize that this may be just one trait of my mother's that I share, although I can't say if it's heredity or learned behavior. Like my mother, I usually fill twice as many closets and drawers with clothing than the rest of the family put together. But it's not just clothing, I keep knick knacks, books, unopened mail, and stacks of useless items - some of which I don't even like.

However, the story of the man who expired in his home because he couldn't navigate his way through the ten years of garbage and clutter he had collected, has decided me. I don't want to become the crazy old lady who lives amongst garbage bags who is found several weeks after her death only because neighbors noticed a strange smell. There would be the inevitable interviews with policemen who would describe a scene of horror and filth. I might even show up on the Drudge Report or one of those Offbeat News sites.

I am embarking on my new life, striving to free myself of years of useless items, unattractive knick-knacks, yard sale bargains that sit unused in closets and clothes I not only never wear, but have never worn. It's a weeding-out process, and not everything goes with the first review. I mean, I might need some of this stuff... one day...

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