Moving a Hoarder: Fix It or Trash It?

Guest blog written by Liz Nelson 

I recently had the misfortune of moving my aunt out of my grandparent’s house to one of my properties 800 miles away. The misfortune was that my grandparents were hoarders to the Nth degree, especially my grandfather. My aunt was living there to provide care for him but couldn’t bring herself to confront his hoarding obsession. He recently passed away and my grandmother moved in with another family member. Oddly, it seems that hoarding is hereditary. I hope by sharing my story I can help others prepare for situations like this.

Hoarding1. The nastiness of discovery - As we began sifting through the heaps of trash within the home, we slowly came across my aunt’s furniture that was covered in some kind of thick filmy substance you’d see in a science fiction movie. The kitchen table set had what looked like newspaper glued to the chairs by some kind of brown substance, while the table resembled a pedestal of art made from animal feces. It was repulsive, to say the least.

2. Let it go - My aunt demanded we fill the moving truck with everything we could find. Some of this was spurned by her desire to not let her sister, a controlling gold-digger, have anything from the home. Even chairs with missing legs had to be packed into the truck. Fortunately, my mother put her proverbial foot down on some of the trash my aunt wanted to load. After all, we were moving my aunt into a 48-foot by 12-foot trailer as she didn’t have a lot of “personal” stuff.

3. Fixing trash - The outside furniture consisted of fabric-covered indoor furniture which had made the transition to the outdoors after losing a leg or two. These pieces had been sitting outside for several years and the wood suffered weather rot. However, my aunt argued for us to load it insisting she would “repair it.” Although she is an astute seamstress and can sew and/or knit just about anything, she’s no carpenter, and the integrity of the wood was beyond use. My argument to her was, “If you really don’t have the time or energy to fix it, there is no reason to keep it.” She is slowly coming to terms with that statement and has thrown a few of the worst items out.

4. Digging for gold - You typically shouldn’t have to bring a shovel as part of your moving equipment. After pulling out what we could find of any importance, three of us began shoveling the remaining “stuff” out the door at which point my mother and aunt continued sifting through the refuse to make sure important paperwork didn’t get discarded. Although we did find a few items which classified as intact, such as brand new small kitchen appliances still in the box, in the living room, the majority of the mass comprised of food and feces-encrusted trash.

5. Subjected to hazards - Not many moving companies would subject themselves to such hazards. In fact, the only reason I helped was because it involved family. Otherwise, it may have been a better idea to strike a match and let it burn – not that I am condoning such behavior. It is hard to imagine any human could live in such a manner, let alone three under the same roof.

After the move, my mother put her cleaning skills to work and polished the kitchen table and chairs, removing the nastiness which consumed them. It now looks like a brand new set fresh from a furniture store. However, not everything can be cleaned in such a manner. Sometimes it’s easier to just throw an item out, especially if you don’t have the skills to repair the damage. If you have broken furniture or otherwise repairable items, ask yourself, “Will I really have time to fix this?”

About the Author: This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17@gmail.com.

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