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Thread: Boomers Cleaning Up After Parents Thread - "But Someone Could Use That!"

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    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    Boomers Cleaning Up After Parents Thread - "But Someone Could Use That!"

    We have moved my 87 year old mother-in-law into assisted living. My wife and I had the ugly task of cleaning out a place that she had spent twenty-two years in, having stuffed it with stuff from a house she lived another thirty years in. If you've been in this situation you know what we're dealing with: People who grew up in the goddamn Depression never throw out a SINGLE.FUCKING.THING. I don't know how many times in the last couple days I saw my wife lift up something and go "Seriously, I remember this from my childhood and it doesn't even WORK." I bet we filled a dumpster with all the crap we threw out. My three-row SUV is in the garage, packed with stuff up to the roof with what my wife is going to sort through and still likely to throw half of it out.

    Four years ago my mom died. In addition to being a Depression kid, she was also a Level B hoarder. Not ready for TV but damn, she had a lot of worthless crap. "Oh someone could use that." "The only person that could use that would be someone else that's eighty-five and she already has five of them." My mother had every Styrofoam container from every takeout meal she had eaten in the last twenty years. We used twenty construction strength garbage bags on her place in AZ and at least twice that on her place up here in North Dakota. It still makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

    Given that the majority of folks here are of that age where our parents are of that generation, please feel free to share your tales of woe. I need to know that I'm not the only one.
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

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    Studmuffin Scott Bails's Avatar
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    No, unfortunately, Jerol, your story isn't unusual at all. We went through it with my grandparents and my ex-wife's grandparents a few years ago. And, all the while, we warned my parents and my former in-laws that we're not doing it again for them - we began to parse and purge their stuff the last few years. But it's never an easy task.

    It's not like it's difficult enough moving a loved-one out of their home, and then you have to deal with getting rid of stuff that they don't want to part with.

    I hope things go well for you and your wife during this.
    Music isn't about chops, or even about talent - it's about sound and the way that sound communicates to people. Mike Keneally

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    There used to be an oft-quoted maxim: "Keep a thing for seven years and you'll find a use for it." Clearly the seven is arbitrary, the point being that you don't really know when something will come in useful.

    The corollary, of course, is that if you haven't found a use for it after that time, you probably never will, and you can happily throw it out.

    It's true; people who lived through the depression developed the habit of hanging onto things. Often though I think society has moved too much the other way. No, I don't keep every container from every takeaway meal, but yes i do have a few in the cupboard that I use for picnic lunches and the like. The question I ask is: Can I use that again? And if not, can someone else use it? But if the first answer is no and the second is yes, I take steps to get it to that other person.

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    Member Brian Griffin's Avatar
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    Mom, (brides), is 82

    Just before her 80th we moved her east from where she was living in Vegas

    I was not there for the packing up and purging but my bride and her sisters were and it was NOT easy or pleasant

    Every discard was a major negotiation, and she still has a bad taste from the experience

    I'm not so sure it's the Depression mentality carryover, it's more just being old IMO

    She was such a sharp businesswoman when I first met her, it's fucking sad what happens, old age can fuck you up : (

    BG
    "When Yes appeared on stage, it was like, the gods appearing from the heavens, deigning to play in front of the people."

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    Geriatric Anomaly progeezer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Griffin View Post

    I'm not so sure it's the Depression mentality carryover, it's more just being old IMO


    BG
    Both being born way after the depression (1945) and being old (a few weeks shy of 70) tells me that it is indeed people who were old enough to remember bread lines and the other joys of the great depression who have that hoarder's mentality.

    I can't even come close to estimating the amount of useless and broken shit I've tossed over the years already, and (some would say miraculously) I'm still breathing.

    I think to a great extent it is indeed a large factor in determining "pack rat" versus "throw that".
    "My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician, and to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference"

    President Harry S. Truman

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    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    What's worse is when you find a decades worth of never-used Christmas presents; or even worse is when you're less-than useful siblings or sibling-n-laws make off with 'em.

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    Outraged bystander markwoll's Avatar
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    Last week I ran headfirst into the reality of my parents aging.
    My father had a stroke and needs to be in a care situation.
    My Mom wants to live in the same place as dad.
    We looked at a couple of places that offer assisted living.
    450 sq foot at about $100/sq ft is a 'normal' situation.
    My parents not hoarders but have collected and cataloged seashells from all over the world.
    The thought of paring down their lives to fit their 'new' life is daunting to say the least.
    I imagine the value of much of it would be close to zero to someone who does not share their interests.
    One mans trash is anothers treasured memories.
    Sometimes time is an arrow that sticks right in the heart.
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
    -- Aristotle
    Nostalgia, you know, ain't what it used to be. Furthermore, they tells me, it never was.
    "The future will be better tomorrow." Dan Quayle

  8. #8
    My Mom has Christmas wrapping paper still in the plastic from a store called Zodys that closed sometime in the early '80's, I believe. Maybe even the '70's.

    When I moved back I had to clean up this house and only got about half of what I wanted done as Mom can't part with anything. She had a tape splicer from the '70's still in the original packaging. I had never seen it before.

    Living with a hoarder and her mental problems is killing me. She's off her rocker and no one will listen to me or do anything about it. She was eating crackers that were dropped on the floor - a floor that is so disgusting from being pissed on by cats and so completely covered with dog and cat hairs - and no one thinks she needs help. I'm tempted to contact the Hoarders show, not that I need or want to be on the show but maybe they can point me in the right direction as to how I can get her some help or committed or whatever the hell needs to be done.

    Letting the animals have free run of the house is ridiculous and thoroughly disgusting. Cats peeing on kitchen counters, on computers(they ruined one of mine before I learned to close my door at all times), in front of the cat box(too many cats for one or two boxes so I took them all out) and anywhere they decide they want to. It's so bad and my family won't listen to me, they pretty much just blow it off when I speak, yet this house is clearly disgusting to the N'th degree. I HATE it here(not just Las Vegas, this problem is so much more than that) and I never, EVER wanted to come back here but that's what life dealt me. When I'm out, anywhere, I don't want to come home as there's filth everywhere and a crazy woman who has no sense or logic. Or sanity.

    I came home a couple years ago and the house was about five minutes from being a inferno. A book, one of thousands that line the walls of every room and cannot, under any circumstances whatsoever, be gotten rid of, fell onto a halogen light and was smoldering. If that had caught, and it was only minutes, maybe seconds, from becoming actual fire this whole house would have been gone in minutes. The books would have caught fire and boom, done. My immediate response, once I opened the front door, was "FIRE!!!!" and she had no idea. House filled with smoke and she didn't know.

    I'm at my wits end. This town, this house, this crazy insane bitch of a woman, it's all killing me and every thing I do to try and get out fails.
    Carry On My Blood-Ejaculating Son - JKL2000

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    Studmuffin Scott Bails's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwoll View Post
    Last week I ran headfirst into the reality of my parents aging.
    My father had a stroke and needs to be in a care situation.
    My Mom wants to live in the same place as dad.
    We looked at a couple of places that offer assisted living.
    450 sq foot at about $100/sq ft is a 'normal' situation.
    My parents not hoarders but have collected and cataloged seashells from all over the world.
    The thought of paring down their lives to fit their 'new' life is daunting to say the least.
    I imagine the value of much of it would be close to zero to someone who does not share their interests.
    One mans trash is anothers treasured memories.
    Sometimes time is an arrow that sticks right in the heart.
    Sounds awful, Mark. Very sorry to hear that. Good luck, and hope you get the best outcome possible.
    Music isn't about chops, or even about talent - it's about sound and the way that sound communicates to people. Mike Keneally

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    Studmuffin Scott Bails's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLoony View Post
    I'm at my wits end. This town, this house, this crazy insane bitch of a woman, it's all killing me and every thing I do to try and get out fails.
    Oh, wow! This sounds awful, too!

    Have you tried calling the local Animal Control? The "crazy cat-woman" thing isn't that uncommon - I'd think that they'd have some resources for you.
    Music isn't about chops, or even about talent - it's about sound and the way that sound communicates to people. Mike Keneally

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    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    Interesting thread.

    My mother's never been a hoarder but my aunt is kind of. Not so much that she hoards useless, ridiculous items but more of her depression-era mentallity. Like she'll drive an extra few miles to save a few pennies on gas (petrol). In other words, "penny wise, but dollar stupid."

    Well, I've shared this before. I had to place my mom in an assisted living home this year. She's much better off there because at home we can't take care of her. My aunt (mom's older sister) is 85 years old, I have to work and I can't spend my life stuck in these four walls, and my mother has dementia. It's not Alzheimer's yet but it will be eventually. On top of that my aunt recently fell and broke her arm. She fell because of her impatience. She just had to clean those cobwebs. She couldn't wait until Saturday and ask me to do it. So she gets up on a step ladder, loses her balance, and falls on concrete. Then all the drama starts. This is why I drink guys.... I'm it. I carry the load. I don't have sisters, and my brother lives in California (he wouldn't be able to do anything anyway). But there's also the bright side. When all this is over I'll probably get this house I'm living in (if I don't lose my marbles first....).

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    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    TheLoony: I'm at my wits end. This town, this house, this crazy insane bitch of a woman, it's all killing me and every thing I do to try and get out fails.
    Man I feel bad for you. I'm not going through anything this drastic but I am having to deal with two old women who both have histories of serious, anxiety attacks. They need me to help them but they don't completely trust me, so it's frustrating. There have been times I've thought of quitting my job, loading up my car with as many posessions as possible and driving the hell away from here. But I'm not gonna do that but I want to keep my life fairly sane, and I also feel sorry for my mother and aunt, and I sense it is my duty to help them any way I can.

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    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    We recently bought a house from friends (older than us ) who were hoarders. We had to build it into the contract that extra money would be kept in escrow to pay for removing everything if they didn't do it. Fortunately they did. They hired someone to just toss everything out, and it took a few large dumpsters.

    The house wasn't kept in great shape, but with some renovations will be really nice. They really weren't able to enjoy it for a long time with all the junk taking up space. Also they own a used book store, so that was sort of how the hoarding began. They'd have dinner parties and everyone had to just find room among the piles of stuff.

    Hoarding empty bottles and containers seems to be a specific type of hoarding, I guess because it's essentially hoarding garbage.

    If you've never read the web site Crazy eBay Mom it's worth Googling for some insight into the hoarder mentality and lifestyle.

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    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    If you wanna see old people who just can't part with their junk, watch a show called "American Pickers." It's actually entertaining. The two guys just driving all over the country to by rusted junk. Yeah, all that old stuff is collectable but it's kinda funny when you see some old coot haggling with these guys over a rusted oil can, or a roached out sign that's a hundred years old.

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    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Once you've seen a few episodes where they buy old gas station signs and some rusted-out motorcycle parts off some hoarder in the woods, you've seen them all.

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    Be aware that some times the things older people do actually have a reason and are advanced. I wish my father would have known what he created when he was younger.

    My dad dies about 15 years ago. When going through his stuff I found all the hoarding based upon depression-era thinking but one thing that got me was he took the flaps off old envelopes that weren't used, cut them in half, and had thousands of them in manila envelopes. When going through his papers, I found he would take one, lick it, and stick it on another piece of paper and write a note on it. The earliest paperwork I could find when he did this was 1963. A lot of his papers throughout the years had such annotations.

    3-M came out with Post-It Notes inn 1978. My dad was a multimillionaire but didn't know he had the multimillion dollar idea.
    "The woods would be very silent if the only birds that sang were those who sang best..." - Henry David Thoreau

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    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    We went through this a few years ago with my wife's friend (early 50s) who had lost her mother and was living in a 4 BR colonial where she grew up. 10 years earlier the house was magazine article spotless and well-maintained, but now it was a pig sty with piles of junk in every room and her incontinent dog running around. It took me, my wife and my brother a winter's full of weekends to help clear it out with endless runs to the dump. She sold the place to a developer who tore it down and replaced it with a mcMansion, and she moved a few hours north to make a fresh start, using half of the proceeds to buy a smaller house (but with 7 acres to maintain) and the rest to live off of until she found a job. The last time we were at her new place the grass was waist high on most of the lot and the house had bugs all over the place because she had her windows open. "You have the windows open and bugs are getting in". "I was letting in the fresh air." "There are no screens." "Some of the windows have screens". She's blown through all of the money and still doesn't have a job, got type 2 diabetes and lost most of her eyesight and can no longer drive, which works out real well in a rural setting, yet continues to eat sweets and baked goods like there's no tomorrow, which I guess is pretty much true. Aargh.

  18. #18
    ALL ACCESS Gruno's Avatar
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    Seems these stories are common amongst us.

    My girlfriend's granny (on her mother's side) is 99. Her grandpa (on her dad's side) is in his late 90s.

    Her granny lives in Wisconsin at an assisted living facility where each room is like an apartment, complete with stove, refrigerator, dining area, bed, etc. Last week she fell out of bed and hit her head. She was in the hospital a couple of days. She now has to be in a different section of the facility that has constant care. She's not doing well -- they have to tell her to swallow her food. The monthly fee for this new care is $9,000 per month.

    As for her grandpa, he is a bit better off. He also is in Wisconsin, but also owned a home in Arizona. He wasn't a true hoarder, but he had signs of that. His wife passed away 6 years ago and his health started declining since. We went to Arizona last year to help them clean out his house and distribute some of his belongings that he wasn't going to use anymore. In his Arizona house, he had two of everything. He would buy his wife the same things he bought, overall. He had two new desktop computers as well as two laptops. We're talking top-of-the-line stuff. Mind you, he also had the same equipment in his Wisconsin home. When I turned on the iMac, we realized he only used the computers for email and to see aircraft online (he was a military pilot). Other than that, the computers were rarely used for anything else. He also had brand new Bose Wave unit that was never used. It was sitting in his garage untouched. He would buy these things because he thought they were cool gadgets. When he got them, his interest had turned to something else. He wasn't a compulsive buyer, but what he did buy he would forget he owned in time. A lot of the items we found in their packaging. Other items were barely used. His house looked nice and everything was kept up. He just stored everything in cabinets or the garage. Nothing was cluttered. We distributed the items to relatives and they had an estate sale with the remaining items. They sold the house very quickly. When we visited him in September in Wisconsin, I noticed his entertainment center had some killer vintage gear. He seldom uses it. Most of his days are spent lounging in a reclining chair or bed that he has in an extended kitchen.

    For both of them, this was the first time they met my daughter (their great-grandchild), and that was priceless.

    My dad was beyond close to a heart attack last year. He had some problems with shortness of breath when he was out for his daily walk. It also happened the next day. He went in a few days later to see the doc, and they said he would need a stent. The following week he was in for the procedure. Within a few hours they realized he needed a triple bypass. He was always healthy and was a runner since high school, so that helped in his recovery. We celebrated his 74th birthday last week.

    It's a difficult road ahead for them and others are experiencing that as this thread shows. Hang in there, everyone. Peace comes eventually. Cherish what you can and help them through the pain. It's all we can do.

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    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    I need to escape into Prog...

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    Member Brian Griffin's Avatar
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    ....and I need to take a step back, sounds like others here have some really difficult situations they are dealing with

    Mine is not that level

    BG
    "When Yes appeared on stage, it was like, the gods appearing from the heavens, deigning to play in front of the people."

  21. #21
    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLoony View Post
    My Mom has Christmas wrapping paper still in the plastic from a store called Zodys that closed sometime in the early '80's, I believe. Maybe even the '70's.

    When I moved back I had to clean up this house and only got about half of what I wanted done as Mom can't part with anything. She had a tape splicer from the '70's still in the original packaging. I had never seen it before.

    Living with a hoarder and her mental problems is killing me. She's off her rocker and no one will listen to me or do anything about it. She was eating crackers that were dropped on the floor - a floor that is so disgusting from being pissed on by cats and so completely covered with dog and cat hairs - and no one thinks she needs help. I'm tempted to contact the Hoarders show, not that I need or want to be on the show but maybe they can point me in the right direction as to how I can get her some help or committed or whatever the hell needs to be done.

    Letting the animals have free run of the house is ridiculous and thoroughly disgusting. Cats peeing on kitchen counters, on computers(they ruined one of mine before I learned to close my door at all times), in front of the cat box(too many cats for one or two boxes so I took them all out) and anywhere they decide they want to. It's so bad and my family won't listen to me, they pretty much just blow it off when I speak, yet this house is clearly disgusting to the N'th degree. I HATE it here(not just Las Vegas, this problem is so much more than that) and I never, EVER wanted to come back here but that's what life dealt me. When I'm out, anywhere, I don't want to come home as there's filth everywhere and a crazy woman who has no sense or logic. Or sanity.

    I came home a couple years ago and the house was about five minutes from being a inferno. A book, one of thousands that line the walls of every room and cannot, under any circumstances whatsoever, be gotten rid of, fell onto a halogen light and was smoldering. If that had caught, and it was only minutes, maybe seconds, from becoming actual fire this whole house would have been gone in minutes. The books would have caught fire and boom, done. My immediate response, once I opened the front door, was "FIRE!!!!" and she had no idea. House filled with smoke and she didn't know.

    I'm at my wits end. This town, this house, this crazy insane bitch of a woman, it's all killing me and every thing I do to try and get out fails.
    My sympathies. Sounds like you don't need help from family, but an attorney. Your mom needs a competency hearing or whatever Nevada has in place for such things. That entire house could be exhibit #1. Is there a free legal aid clinic there?
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

  22. #22
    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    A guy I know went through this sort of thing with his Mom, although in his case it was made worse by the fact that she's mentally ill, and he (and to a lesser extent, his father--his parents were long separated) were left to deal with it when his mother just disappeared something like 6 or 7 years ago. Nobody's heard from her since.

  23. #23
    Studmuffin Scott Bails's Avatar
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    Just think - there were no "public storage facilities" in the 1950s and 1960s.

    Look how materialistic we've become.
    Music isn't about chops, or even about talent - it's about sound and the way that sound communicates to people. Mike Keneally

  24. #24
    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Bails View Post
    Just think - there were no "public storage facilities" in the 1950s and 1960s.

    Look how materialistic we've become.
    "Public storage facilities" are where you keep the rubbermaid containers full of your victims.


    Houses in the old days tended to have usable attics and basements. A lot of Postwar housing consisted of a ranch house built on a concrete slab, and any attic space is probably getting used for HVAC equipment or wasn't accessible anyway. My house has an attic that's only about 3' high at the peak, and the basement floor is the family room.
    Last edited by Dave (in MA); 11-24-2014 at 04:15 PM.

  25. #25
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave (in MA) View Post
    Once you've seen a few episodes where they buy old gas station signs and some rusted-out motorcycle parts off some hoarder in the woods, you've seen them all.
    That's true. I haven't watched that show in a while. You've seen one rusted, Indian motorcycle, you've seen 'em all.

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