For the Hoard
My father’s uncle died at the end of June, and left behind a tiny little house that would fit right in on an episode of Hoarders.
I went there with my dad yesterday afternoon, ostensibly to help him. But I had an ulterior motive. I wanted to convince my parents that the house is a job for professionals. They’re afraid to hire a cleaning crew because they think there are probably some valuable things that should be salvaged. Now that I’ve seen the house, it’s hard to believe it.
I haven’t set foot in the house in probably twenty years. Not since my great grandmother died. When I was a child, we used to visit her on Sunday afternoons. The house was always tiny and filled with too much stuff, but since she died, it’s moved from clutter to chaos.
I didn’t know my great uncle well. I would see him at my grandmother’s house, and we’d have polite small talk, but that was about it. He seemed like a functional adult, but his house is terrifying, and sad. I told my husband to imagine the worst apartment any of his college friends had ever lived in, and now fill it from floor to ceiling with junk.
In Dan Savage’s book about adoption, The Kid, he talks about himself and his boyfriend looking at all the options for their life together. But every plan without children ended with distant relatives coming and sorting through their stuff after they die. And that’s all I could think about. My mother and I didn’t know my uncle well at all, but there we were, picking up things from piles and deciding whether they should be kept or thrown in the dumpster outside.