Aug 16, 2009

A warning to hoarders.....!

...Don't leave your mess for your children to clean up or they might just throw it all in the bin. Today I was involved in an estate clearance. The only child was left to dispose of her mother's and her two aunts' possessions. The family had lived in the same house since 1912 so it was a veritable time capsule, or had the potential to be had the daughter not been left to deal with it all on her own.

She had been at the enormous task for three weeks and has filled countless bins lent to her by the neighbors for collection by the tip truck. She was down to what she considered to be the good stuff. So if you can imagine what had gone to the council tip you might have been quite sad that this treasure of three hoarding women has been lost forever. I was.

But this is not the only situation like this I've been involved in. One that sticks in my mind was the woman hoarder who died leaving a house chock a block full of stuff. Her son and his wife drove from Queensland and had one long-weekend to empty the house. I happened upon the place quite by accident and ended up dumpster diving all weekend, became good friends with the couple and came home with about 5 car loads of fabric, linen, tapestry, magazines, sewing boxes, curtains, cosmetics, wallpaper and more. The woman had saved Everything!! good and bad, new and old, I found grocery receipts going back to the 60s for milk and bread and every school book painstakingly written in by her two boys.

The Queensland couple filled and emptied three HUGE and I mean really huge (2m x 5m - almost as big as my new studio!) dumpsters of stuff. The good linen was taken by some aunts, the furniture sold for practically nothing to a local dealer and the old Holden they found in the garage sold for a few hundred dollars everything else (except the deeds and a coin collection) was thrown away. It was a weekend I won't forget. I cried, with the couple and alone, it was very emotional. So much time and effort in saving, for what. It's a lesson I think for all of us hoarders.

But I say thank you to those people who saved, I certainly appreciate the effort and not just because it's how I make a living, but these people also donate to museums like the Powerhouse, without them the past would be a black hole. The hard part is finding the right people to deal with the disposal of it all when needed.

So back to today, at the very bottom of a wardrobe on top of old newspaper dated 1945 were two beautiful scrapbooks full of delightful cards and other scraps. I held my breath wondering if she was going to part with them, she did. She is not a hoarder. She'd determined not to leave so much for her kids to worry about. It's funny isn't it, we all have scrapbooks as kids but some of us turn into hoarders some don't.
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