With the assistance of Adult Protective Services, my siblings and I removed our mentally-challenged sister from my mother's home against my mother's wishes. I left a job that I loved after 32 years because the new management and I didn't see eye-to-eye. My mother had to be moved to a nursing home which was followed by a series of falls and several surgeries. My husband got sick, had heart surgery and still didn't improve. Mom slipped into a coma then her kidneys failed and we had to make the decision not to start dialysis. Then the same day I found out my husband had to have lung surgery, my mother died. My husband hat lung surgery the same day we buried Mom, so I didn't even go to the funeral. We spent the next three years searching for a medical solution to my husband's declining health with an endless amount of frustration.
I went from being a working woman who never lifted a finger at home, didn't cook, and had a manicure every two weeks to being responsible for everything, and I mean everything, at home. It would have been so easy to just surrender and fall into a deep depression. But somebody had to keep everything going, so I got out of bed every single day and just kept putting one foot in front of the other and doing what had to be done. Honestly, some days that's all I could do, just put one foot in front of the other and keep going. But it's not in my nature to surrender or quit, so that's what I did. I just kept going as best I could.
And some great things have come out of all of this. Grandad and I are closer than we've ever been. We've always been each other's best friends, but we've learned a deeper trust and reliance on each other. My kids have shown me what wonderfully responsible adults they are. I've always known they were great kids, but they and their spouses have been there for us in ways that I never even imagined they would be. When we needed something, I had only to ask and sometimes I didn't even have to ask. They knew what we needed and they just did it. I could not ask for better kids ... they are amazing!
But this tumultuous period has had at least one casualty ... my house. We've always struggled with clutter. Both of us come from a long line of hoarders. When my father-in-law died it took three men and more than one industrial-sized dumpster to clean out his junk. Grandad has inherited that need to hold on to stuff in case you ever need it. And five of us spent three days going through my mother's two-room apartment. Then we ended up just selling almost everything to a junk dealer who hauled it away for us. I too struggle with wanting to "collect" stuff like my mother did.
This means that every closet, drawer and storage area in the house and garage is packed to the fullest. I'm afraid to open some of the doors because I know stuff is going to come tumbling out. Now that our kids are grown and gone, shouldn't we have more closet space? Not so! I've learned that, while they don't want to take all their stuff with them, they don't want me to get rid of it either. The clutter has taken over. I almost feel like I could be on an episode of The Hoarders. Seriously, it's not as bad as all that, but now that I'm feeling more in control of my life in general, I feel the need to take control of the clutter. And, I'm determined that cleaning out my stuff will not be such a huge job for my kids in the future.
|Bottom file drawer - before de-cluttering|
My new byline will be "if we haven't needed it in the past year, we don't need it." It's going to be tough, but I think the hardest part will be just getting started. Updates will follow ... stay tuned.