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Voices of COHP



Dear Mom,


I don’t know why you felt the need to “collect things” as you liked to call it.  I especially don’t know how some of the things you collected made sense to you – years of empty envelopes that your mail came in, stacked neatly end to end in multiple drawers of your desk, empty cardboard boxes, “take home” containers, washed and stacked on a shelf you created out of one of your many walkers that you also collected, boxes and boxes of pens that you had so long most of them didn’t write when I found them.  Prescriptions that were 5-8 years old and you had written on them “do not take.”  Why keep them?  The list goes on and on and on.  


For years and years, I begged you to stop.  I told you how difficult it was going to be for me when you passed away to deal with everything.  I’m not in great health and I passed 60 some time back.  You would not, or could not, stop.  An old plastic child’s floaty that held a spot in your living room for months until I DEMANDED it leave, finally left.  


When you went in the hospital and we were told you would need a walker, we started trying to clear your narrow pathway so you could get into your house, as you stated you wanted to do.  That was our first shock!!  Two months later you left this earth for a better place, and I have yet to grieve.  I have been cleaning your house for four months.  So far, we rented three commercial dumpsters for just the obvious trash.  


Your house is still full of things that we plan to put into four garage sales – there is no way we could do just one.  Did you know that no one wanted your collections?  When I tried to get you to stop, you gave me a list of people that would be happy to “find homes” for your stuff.  Do you know I have yet to see one of those people?  No one wants this stuff that you could not take with you.  I pray it gave you some happiness and that it wasn’t just a sickness that you hated as much as I did.  


You controlled your diabetes.  There is a recovering alcoholic in our family, 25 years sober now, that EVERY DAY fights the urge to drink – a sickness he wants to control so it does not control him.  Another cousin as a recovering drug addict, 21 years clean, fighting it every day, leading groups of others to help them.  You spent so much time volunteering in Hospice and other places helping others.  You did not help yourself and did not help me.  


You always told me you kept things “in case someone else needed it.”  No one knew what you had and you never offered.  Did you understand how much I resented what you collected?  Do you know that we took 200 blankets to the homeless shelter?  Don’t you think they needed those?  What about last winter when it was so cold and I told you I had a couple of blankets I was taking to the shelter?  Did it never occur to you that you had TWO HUNDRED and that was something that someone did in fact need?


Your collection had grown so much in every room that the walls were shrinking.  Because of that, I have found multiple mouse and rat nests that inhabited those spaces.  You had an infestation of roaches because they love paper as much as you did.  We had to hire an exterminator so we could get into the house you lived in.  


No wonder you always met me out on the porch when I came over.  “Nice weather” was not the reason.  I always suspected it was worse than I remembered, but you never wanted me to know – you were always careful to never need anything.  Or you were always sitting in the living room.  Since there was not a place for anyone but you to sit, it was easy to visit on the porch or meet for lunch.  I was not raised to live in that kind of filth – I was shocked to see the depth of it in your house.  


I have spent a lot of money and time cleaning up your house.  After we got rid of obvious trash, we contacted 5 estate sale companies.  No one wants to do it “there’s just too much for us to handle.”  So I am piece by piece trying to put into stacks for the garage sales I mentioned.  It is hard.  I resent it.



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