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Hoarding



The last time we visited your home, before the retirement center where you finally slowed to card games and singing in the halls, we sorted the sacks.

Each of us carefully examined the hoarded treasures – bags of used panty hose you wanted for future crochet projects, bags of hangers from dry cleaners, and bags of cleaned and folded wonder bread wrappers.

Grandma, momma, and I sorted different sections of your home – while you tried to justify their remaining. Grandma – worked outward from the small pathway which led from the front door to your chair. Momma – dug through gift wrapping, mice traps, and old hats left from all four of your deceased husbands. I – explored the slopped decaying spiral staircase with mis-matched planks – some smaller than the length of my shoe, leading to more sacks on the second floor – Lots more sacks, a mattress, and piles of clothing higher than my 10-year-old form.

What drove you to need so much? Did it start outside with the rose garden that turned to bramble covering the backyard? Or did the demon fear take root during hard times. Your life encompassed so many, so much. The upheaval of the San Francisco Earthquake, WWI, WWII, the Great depression, the loss, one after another, of four husbands. Unable to evade the destruction, loss, and hunger – each neglected need replaced with trinket, hoarding to suppress the pain.

A mouse scurried across my summer sandal and then the excess, I ran for the stairs and fell to the dirty kitchen floor. peering upwards to the leaning stacks of newspapers threatening to intomb – Unraveled by how one tears down a house from the inside out, My heart hurt for how empty you must have been.


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