HOARDER…NOT ME

Books I'm Keeping

Books I’m Keeping

We’re moving. After 41 years in the same house, we’re downsizing to a smaller house we own on the same property. Moving across a driveway shouldn’t be all that difficult. Right? Turns out it’s as hard as moving cross town or cross country. That is in the preparation stages.

Now, I’m not a hoarder, I swear I’m not, but I do keep things much longer than necessary. My mother did this, so did her mother. Her mother may have been considered a hoarder, but she had good reason. Raising her children during the Great Depression meant she saved things that might be used and reused. That habit carried over to the remainder of her life. Balls of string, bundles of newspapers, magazines, books, all tied, empty Dairy Queen Containers, stuff like that.

So I come by it honestly. My daughter on the other hand, is just the opposite. If she doesn’t use something in a few months to a year, she gets rid of it. Sometimes to her dismay, after she discovers she might have needed it after all.

Guess who is helping me discard all this stuff? Why, my daughter, of course. And she’s rigorous, thorough and finite in her judgments. We’ve boxed and sent to the library over 200 books, both hard and soft cover. Bet I’ve saved almost that many because I convinced her that if they are signed personally to me by the author, they deserve to be kept. She bought that. So books signed by James Lee Burke, Jeffrey Deaver, Jodi Thomas, and Lisa Wingate, to name only a few, are safe.

I have a tee shirt collection from places I’ve been, things I’ve done and people I’ve met. When she held up the shirt I have from the day I flew with the first man in outer space, Joe Kittinger, she said, “Too bad he didn’t sign it.” Yeah, maybe it is, but that shirt ain’t going nowhere. I can be finite too. Another has a photo of the Topaz Man, who posed for some of my book covers with Topaz/Penguin in the 90s. No one touches that baby. So I’m keeping my shirts from OWL, The Wild Rose Press-Cactus Rose, OWFI, and the list goes on. She gave me no grief, just sat and patiently folded them neatly, put them in a drawer separate from those I said I wanted to continue wearing. She’s mortified that some of the shirts are 20 years old.

Office BoxedOh, dear, the house is filling up with boxes as closet after closet, bookcase after bookcase is emptied and either sent off to be sold or donated or boxed to take to the new house. I’m handling it very well, I think, considering the alternative. We’ll continue to live out here in the country I love so much, rather than in some assisted living place in a crowded town where sounds from cars and  people rattle about in the air in a cacophony of noise.

Here the songs of birds, frogs chirping from the nearby creek, the whisper of leaves in the sycamore tree outside the window, the fragrance of lilacs and magnolia fill the air. Deer walk through the yard, red foxes visit. And I can sit outside on my porch and hear, see and smell them all.

But back to the subject of hoarding. I think some people are simply too lazy to throw stuff away when the house fills up until they can’t move through it. Others do have a disease, I’ll admit. Mine has never done that, but I’ve filled every secret nook and cranny with memorabilia from a long life well lived. And it’s hard to see some of it go. But better now than later when I’d have no control over what is kept to pass down to my children and grandchildren.

What are some of the things you keep because you can’t bear to part with them?

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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
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15 Responses to HOARDER…NOT ME

  1. I am not moving, but I am removing and only keeping a few items close to my heart. Maybe this way I’ll be able to make life easier. Happy days ahead.

  2. Staci Troilo says:

    With each house we move to, we get rid of more stuff. We’ve gone from two full homes of furniture to about one and a quarter now, so we’re getting there! Maybe you can re-purpose some of your things to save space, like turning your keepsake t-shirts into a quilt? Just a thought.

    • Chris says:

      I did pillows, but quilt would be great, too! Hadn’t thought about that …but then, I’d need to learn to quilt wouldn’t I? 🙂

  3. Velda you are not a hoarder, you appreciate life and want to hold it with you. I intervene with hoarders and try to create a plan to resolve the overwhelming accumulation of ‘things’ that prevent the person from living a quality life. many cannot accept change, some are carried out of their homes. Enjoy your new home and know that you are ‘aging well’ and well loved by many.

  4. We’ve moved so often that I’ve learned the lesson of walking away with nothing more than I can pack. I still miss Grandma’s copper teapot, my old Jerusalem bible with a lifetime of notes in the margins and the cast iron pig my sons gave me one Mothers Day.

  5. sallyjadlow says:

    Clothes. They’re old friends. Who throws away old friends?

  6. Velda, I am the same way about my John Denver concert t-shirts and programs. Priceless.

    Nancy Jurka

    • Oh, tell me. I’m facing a stack of 33 1/3 LP albums we kept when we moved here. We gave our Elvis collection to our grandson who really likes his music, but these I’m not sure what will happen to them.

  7. I’d say, if it uplifts your heart, keep it. If it makes you feel guilty, obligated, anxious, overwhelmed, deprived, or grasping, let it go. That will make space for *good* feelings to fill the void. Sounds like you know the difference, brave woman! I’m going to repost this at my CARE Senior Moves page to inspire others to come. Thank you.

  8. Chris says:

    I’m in the process of ‘weeding’ through all my possessions in anticipation of downsizing in a couple years – figured it would be easier one room at a time, at my own pace. Velda, a tip I got years ago…take those T-shirts and make pillows out of them! I have many from trips abroad, that I just packed away. Made the pillows and have them in the guest room and in my office in my big chair,and have trvel photos in both rooms, too. Cool reminders of the trips, and I don’t feel so much like I am ‘hoarding’!

    • What a super idea, Chris. Could never use all the pillows the shirts would make, but a few special ones would make a great reminder of where I’ve been and what I’ve done. Thanks.

  9. jimcopeland says:

    Dear Velda:
    I know exactly how you feel. We live in a 2300 square foot house with a full basement. I mean that, (a full basement.) We’re going to sell just as soon as the right couple comes along and go on the road in 385 square foot RV. Notice the difference in the two spaces! About three months ago I made a decision to get rid of the stuff in the basement. I donated two truck loads of stuff, yeah, stuff. It was all I could do to get it on the truck. I went back and looked and the other stuff was still there. My nearly new 18 year old electric fan, (that won’t work) my 56 year old telephone, that doesn’t have a receiver (it was built for the wall when the batteries hung on it and you rang up the operator.) My doctor’s bag that’s over 125 years old that I started my sales career with (My mentor gave me his fathers bag), two Christmas trees, a stove, six suitcases (Full of clothes), and a crendsa used in the Smith St. John Corp offices 125 years ago. That is just some of my good stuff! I gave up. There was just too much good stuff for me to suffer over. Of course, when someone buys the house I will know exactly what to do with it. Until then, I’ll just keep appraising it.
    Optimistically,
    James M. Copeland

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