Friday, 31 July 2015

being the daughter of a hoarder

#midlife blog crestingthehill.com.au
1970 - with my two brothers and one of  my dad's cars
What do you do when you come from a family of collectors/hoarders and you are a minimalist married to a super tidy minimalist?

The simple answer is that you discover Pinterest and become ridiculously addicted to collecting images because they don't take up any space in the house and they don't need dusting. I wrote about my addiction to Pinterest here but wanted to share a little bit about my family and their collecting habits - just so you know that there are hoarders in Australia too!

My father - who would have to be the most self centred human being to have ever walked the face of the earth - started his collecting life when I was quite young. His first obsession was vintage cars - he'd buy one and spend hours in the garage tinkering around on it and getting people to help him restore it. When he got tired of one car, he progressed to another and then another. Then there were the car clubs and the "come and look at my hot rod" visits and the excuses to spend time and money on his "toys" and himself - and very little spare time with the family.

From there he progressed to collecting militaria when I was in my early teens. It started out as his "retirement fund" that he said he would sell off later in life to supplement his retirement pension. But then it just kept multiplying......the few guns and medals morphed into guns, bayonets, medals, uniforms, books on war, memorabilia from wars etc etc. It required it's own room and display cabinets and security systems and more. Then there were the collectors clubs and the collectors fairs and the swap meets and garage sales - buying, selling and re-buying of more expensive items. It was never ending and (funnily enough) it was all about him. Not one item ever got sold to provide a treat for the family.
#midlife blog crestingthehill.com.au
Yet another militaria collectors fair
Visiting all those garage sales and swap meets also meant that he saw even more "stuff" that would be good to collect and it progressed to tin toys, cameras, Australiana, model cars, books, ornaments and so much more. For years he would sit in his office surrounded by all these things like a king in his throne room. But then karma struck and dementia rapidly set in. No amount of "stuff" in the world can save you from losing your memory (and in his case, his mind). He is now in a nursing home and my poor mother has had the onerous task of selling all that stuff off and clearing out several rooms of accumulated collecting.

It has involved specialist auctions, antique sellers, collectors, ebay and much more to reduce it down and get rid of it all. Then there is all the stuff that he acquired in the years when dementia was slowly reducing his ability to make wise decisions. A lot of that stuff has had to be donated to charity or thrown in the bin. The one bonus of it all is that the funds that have been produced from all the sales are helping to pay for his upkeep in the nursing home - a very expensive endeavour. So, now my father sits in care, my mother has finally gotten rid of most of the accumulated hoard and has had the display cases and shelves taken down and the rooms repainted. The house looks like a normal house again and not Fort Knox.

The funny thing about all of this is the the effect it has had on myself and my brothers. I am the careful, money managing oldest child and in contrast they have both gone down the same path as my father - spending copious amounts of time and money on their "toys" - so much so that I am going to stop here and give them a post of their own!

25 comments:

  1. My husband and I are the exact same way. Clutter drives me crazy. Now imagine living with that hoarder day after day...yeah. I've had to let my tendencies go by the way side mostly. I let her do what she wants and I'll deal with all the clutter another day. I'd rather have the clutter than the alternative.

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    1. swings and round-abouts Rena - if you love the person enough you close your eyes and tidy up when you can :)

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  2. From my experience with several family members with dementia, hoarding is part of the disease. We didn't know how severe the collecting was until they were in the late stages and went to a nursing home. My aunt had thousands of books ( she was never a reader) and her kitchen was over run with canned goods. She had two rooms filled with dolls. The collecting had been going on for years before the dementia became apparent.

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    1. same with my dad Michele - it's been a year and my mum is finally getting to the end of it all - the ability to discern between trash and treasure diminishes as the dementia increases.

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  3. It seems like that sort of clutter collecting is a disease and from what you say and also from Michele's comments it could be connected to dementia.
    Kathleen
    Fridays Blog Booster Party #17

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    1. it's definitely an addiction Kathleen and I think dementia just takes away any ability to see it that way - there is just so much "stuff"!

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  4. Loved it - as usual! And I thought I was the only one having a kind of "funny" family:) It's just interesting how our family can shape us for life, isn't it? Keeping this in mind I always wonder how I will shape my kids? Hopefully, they will grow up to be "normal" and happy people, that's the only thing that counts for me! And while my parents weren't/aren't hoarders, I'm a little bit one myself - I still have invoices/papers/souvenirs somewhere in the boxes from when I lived in Sydney 15 years ago - you never know when you might need it, right?
    xx Abby

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    1. Hi Abby - I saw a picture of you in your house and it looked beautiful - so you must have those boxes hidden away and that's okay! I think we all mess our kids up a bit - hopefully we learn from our parents mistakes and don't repeat them (we just make new ones!)

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  5. My husband is not a hoarder but he can't throw anything away -- that's where I sneak in and do it when he isn't looking. I can't imagine how difficult it would have been for you and your mom but what a blessing that it now helps pay the nursing home bills.

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    1. there's always a silver lining if you look hard enough Carol and I admire your sneakiness :)

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  6. My garage if full of my late mother's "things." She died last November and I've thrown away several bags of garbage every week. But, what do I do with her favorite treasures? I see them every time I drive into the garage.

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    1. Elaine, I think in the end you choose some meaningful favourites and then donate the others and hope they find a 'loving home' - it's really hard to make those decisions though.

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  7. Loved reading this from your perspective. I am a collector but it's not taking anything over so I wouldn't consider myself a hoarder. This subject does fascinate me though.

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    1. Hi Wendy - I think we all have a little bit of collector in us (I must admit to a cupboard of blue glass and some perfume bottles!) it's when it gets out of hand that we need to get worried - thanks for stopping by :)

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  8. Oh dear! Being an army brat meant we moved every two years or oftener so there was not much scope for hoarding for anyone. My mother the world's great 'get-rid-ofer' and I think I've inherited this from her. If you don't use something for over a year give it away or throw it out. My husband and I had a rough start to our marriage only because we inherited my deceased mother-in-law's collections. And there were strong emotions involved when he wanted to sort and keep and I wanted to throw and start afresh! ;) Books, I admit, are my weakness.

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    1. Family "heirlooms" always cause the most upset in marriages Corinne - one person's heirloom is another person's piece of old junk :)

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    2. Oh dear - I have this coming one day! My husband has already warned my that my father's 'collections' are not coming to our house!

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  9. I'm a "saver" not a collector, which I think is just about as bad. I find it hard to throw mementoes away, but am getting better at it. Slowly. LOL
    Carol
    http://carolcassara.com/nose-work/#comments

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    1. Hi Carol - I think that is the blurred line - what is a keepsake and what is toss-able? Everyone's line is different. Maybe it's the reason we keep things that we need to look at.

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  10. Your dad certainly had some unusual "collections" Leanne! I am glad that at least they are bringing in some money to help pay for his care. An interesting post - and I am headed now to read the one about your brothers, as I see that it is published now! Hope you are having a good weekend!

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    1. Thanks Susan - I think it's a virus in my family - hopefully I managed to get immunity from somewhere or my poor husband would go crazy!

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  11. Hmmm collecting can certainly turn into an expensive hobby and take up so much room. I've become much more of a minimalist now and it makes life much simpler I think. Thanks for sharing your stories and memories of your Dad's collecting. I look forward to the next post about your brothers!! Thanks for sharing with #AnythingGoes and see you next week!

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    1. I'm a big fan of minimalism Sue - especially after seeing what excess does to those who are left to deal with it!

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  12. Congratulations.This post was the TOP SIX most clicked on Fridays Blog Booster Party #17. It will be featured on Friday. Don't for get to join us with more of your posts. You may also enjoy the Pinterest Game where random pins win FEATURES.

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  13. Can so relate to this. My dad has been a steam engine enthusiast all his life. Our holidays were spent visiting railways and steam museums - not great for two little girls and their mother! I dread the day when we have to deal with his 'stuff'. My husband has already told me it ain't comin' here! I am a recovering hoarder :-) The whole house is minimalist and uncluttered until you reach my office/studio. It is like two different worlds. There is enough craft stuff in there to open a shop and I'm not joking!

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