Greg was a hoarder.
His entire family were / are hoarders.
- My brother-in-laws friends made him a "new engine" out of cardboard and tin-cans as a joke for his 21st birthday. This enormous construction took pride of place above Greg's parents TV ..... for 17 years!
- My mother-in-law kept every single Reader's Digest magazine she ever bought: she began buying monthly editions in the 1950s. O.o
- Newspapers were kept to use as kindling in the stove.... there was always a huge pile of papers in the kitchen.
- Ice-cream tins from the 1960s graced the top of the kitchen counter.
I think it comes from living on a farm and knowing the intrinsic value inherent in "stuff". "Stuff" that can fix other "stuff" or be re-purposed.
Greg would prefer the term "collector of things", and I thank the Universe that most of his "useful stuff" and "collections of things" was kept in a shed at the farm.
Much of it consists of car, motorbike and tractor parts which I have always accepted as necessary hoarding as it is hard to find parts for classic vehicles.
My darling sister-in-law (a champion hoarder herself) has taken to bringing me "important things" that belonged to Greg from where they were stored at the family farm. This of course is the trickle-down effect of Greg's mother's death (exactly a year to the day before Greg's death). The possessions of a long-term hoarder are slowly being broken down into allotments, lest any of us forget their original owner.
Some of the things are cute and endearing - a picture from Sunday School, school photos, other trinkets.
But dancing sunflowers that were kitch in the 80's and the ugliest faux-rock sculpture that Hong-Kong has ever produced???
They hurt my eyes with their ugliness.
....and yet, I keep them anyway.
Things that I had always offered to "accidentally break" (and toss in the bin) when Greg was alive are suddenly things I can't bear to part with. If they were important enough for him to have kept from his childhood, who am I to toss them out?
A lewd and disgusting mug he gave me before we had children? I can't use it or even leave it anywhere the kids might see it .... but neither can I part with it as it was one of the first gifts he gave me.
I think hoarding is catching.... or perhaps it is something that goes hand-in-hand with widowhood. Holding on to the things that were important to them as a way of keeping the link, the memory, the contact alive.
I part with things now and again, but it is such a bittersweet, gut-wrenching process.
But it is a process.
Recognising that I have re-homed much of his "useful stuff" and sold three of his motorbikes.
Recognising that I have passed most of his clothes onto charity.
Recognising that I will never be able to part with his classic car. Ever.
Eventually, I will reach a point of feeling happy with what I have saved and what I have let go.
....but I'm not there yet.
Let's just hope I reach that point before I catch full-blown Hoarder's Syndrome and end up barricaded into my house by boxes of things I can't bear to part with.
Anyone else have a case of Hoarder's Syndrome where their spouse's belongings are concerned?