Wednesday, July 24, 2013

the opposite of hoarding

Years ago when I was visiting my parents, my mother fondly recalled a story that I had written to my grandfather about a murderous dinosaur.  My parents had received my sister's and my letters back when grandpa passed away. My mother expressed regret that she had thrown out the letters along with pretty much every other item from the past.  With the exception of photographs, there is not much left.  What my parents do have are two ceramic items and a doll that I had sewn, all of which had been in my keeping until I recently gave them to my parents.  I also had a beloved batik monkey gifted from my best friend in Indonesia that I mistakenly gave them which somehow ended up being used as a doorstop in my aunt's house.  Binti, the monkey, has been bleached to bone white in the Arizona sunshine and every time I visit my aunt I look at Binti and feel like weeping.

My mother could be said to suffer from the opposite of hoarding.  She is a minimalist who later regrets some of her purges.  She and my aunt of the bleached monkey are not speaking to each other over some salt baskets from my parents' time in Kenya that my mother wants back.  Meanwhile, several beautiful carved tables from Kenya disappeared to make room for some generic oak end tables.  I brought some batik pillows to my mother from a trip to Bali because they matched a couple of framed batik designs that my parents had from the eighties only to discover that they were long gone.  Every few months I make sure to remind my parents that if they ever feel the urge to get rid of two large photographs of my grandfather with his mounted cavalry or the civil war era gun that belonged to great, great, great grandfather, I would like them.

I don't consider myself to be anywhere near as extreme as my parents but SB sometimes complains of my massive clean-outs.  In my defense, he comes from the opposite situation and though he is nowhere as bad a hoarder as his father, who had books stacked meter high against every wall in his lake house along with decades expired cans of food and whatnot, but SB is a bit of a pack rat.  SB has a habit of stuffing his pockets with all sort of items and then depositing them later on multiple surfaces from the bathroom counter to the bedside table.  I find tissue and spare change everywhere, which causes my biggest blowups. SB has also never encountered a "gift bag" that he could say no to.  He stuffs his free swag into drawers with full intention of sorting through them but that never happens until I embark on the dreaded clean-out session.

Every few months I empty out the drawers in his nightstand as well as search through his closets and backpack.  I make a giant pile of paper to recycle from the brochures and programmes that he brings home.  He sometimes fights me and gets to keep his sentimental programme of the hockey/rugby/lacrosse tournament.  I end up with a large bag full of trinkets and gadgets that we don't need and he wouldn't even remember that he had if not for me trying to get rid of them.  My teammates and their kids are happy to take most of the crap off my hands.  I just don't foresee myself regretting getting rid of that flashlight advertising allergy medicine when I am older, but who knows; people with these disorders rarely admit to them.

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