I recently had to move house and into a small apartment. Even though the move is temporary, I was forced to get rid of a lot of stuff which I had accumulated over the last half century due to space constraints of my temporary abode. It wasn’t easy. I also had to get rid of a lot of things that my late mother had collected over an even longer period. We filled one dumpster with rubbish and donated stuff for re-use or recycling to a charity organisation working with disabled people. The donated stuff required one 3 ton lorry and one 5 ton lorry to be shipped away (that’s about 50 cubic m).
The problem is that both my mother and I are hoarders. A lot of my mother’s stuff includes presents from friends which she received, never used but still she kept for decades. For example, there were a number of serving trays – never used but already corroded by time. She also had a large haul of alcohol – again gifts – enough to stock a bar which is strange as neither she or my late father drank hard liquor. But some of the stuff was of her own doing; for example, she had washed, cleaned and kept all the cough syrup bottles that the family had received from the doctors over the years. That was quite a collection.
Of course, I am my mother’s son and a hoarder too. I remember when I was about 10 years old, I emptied out my sock drawer and labelled it as the “Scavenger Chest”. Any odd thing that I thought might be of some use someday I would collect and keep in the drawer. It could be a safety pin, silver foil from chewing gum wrappers, wooden ice-cream sticks or even Styrofoam packing beads. I also collected books. Strangely, my mother always tried to discourage my collecting and hoarding habits. She cleared my “Scavenger Chest” a few times. When I was away studying, she donated my Nat Geo magazines, my James Herriot books and my Peanuts and B.C. comics collection to relatives. I still feel a little bitterness against those relatives that benefited.
Anyway, I had to confront my collection and ruthlessly throw out a lot of things. For example, I had dutifully kept all my University notes and books for 30 years. After all, you never know when you will find you have the need to refer to them. The truth is that I have only referred to it twice in the 30 years. Yet they occupied one whole cupboard. Time to get rid of them. Out went my tea towel collection which had not seen the light of day for twenty years and showing signs of insect activity. I also had a large collection of “souvenirs” which I received over the years for participating as a speaker at various conferences. These souvenirs are generally large but pretty much hideous and useless. Most of them were just paperweights emblazoned with some awful corporate logo.
But I still couldn’t bring myself to throw all the personal letters that I had collected from as far back as 30 years ago. I have lost touch with some of those who wrote the letters but I remember them all fondly and do not intend to wait another 30 years before I read them again.
My name is LGS and I am a partly reformed hoarder but what do you expect from a squirrel.