My husband and I have been staying with his 90 year old grandfather for a few weeks now. I am off sick from work because I went off the rails again from my PNES symptoms or as the psychologist I went to for a formal assessment calls it “Conversion Disorder.” Apparently, according to him, the two terms are interchangeable. It also is called “pseudo-seizures” and/or “functional neurological disorder.” Whatever you call it, it is incited by the anxieties of my workplace. I also have a cyst on my right wrist which makes writing difficult, as well as typing, and stapling. As a teacher, stapling is one of the most tedious, annoying parts of the job. Stapling handouts of stories (I’m an English teacher) takes forever and the hand movement causes great pain. You may be wondering: photocopiers have stapling functions enabled on them, so why do you have to staple by hand? Well, I’m mighty glad you asked. Because the school is too cheap to pay for the staples. My hand was getting very painful before I left to go on sick leave but it is my brain that is the reason I went on sick leave. In any case, that is not the purpose of my story this morning. As I said, we are staying at my grandfather-in-law’s, and just like my cyst that hides under my skin, his home has some secrets that hide beneath as well.
The secrets are mainly in the basement, but can also be found in pretty much every drawer and cupboard in this house. You see my grandfather-in-law is a hoarder. Not the kind that you see on TV that you can’t even open the door to get into the house, but he certainly has great difficulty with throwing things away. Both he and my late grandmother-in-law, bless her soul, are people who have/had difficulty tossing anything away. And not just sentimental things. EVERYTHING! Most of the items are in the basement. I go down to the basement about once a week to do the laundry. Doing the laundry is a fun adventure, because I always take the opportunity to sneak around the basement to see what cool things I can find… you know, like when you’re visiting someone else’s home and you rummage through their medicine cabinet. You just never know what will be in there!
Since we’ve been staying here, my husband and I have been trying to get his grandfather to throw things away. But it’s always the same with him, hemming and hawing, “I might need that someday.” For example, in the summer, I cleaned out his cupboards of all the expired food and went through with him what we should throw away and what we should keep. When I came to the Cake Mix, I was not allowed to throw it away. “I might bake a cake some day.” My husband laughed, “My grandfather has NEVER baked a cake. Now at 90 he’s going to bake a cake?” But in the end I prevailed (not with the cake mix but with other things), mainly because I waited for him to be asleep or out running errands. In those times, I quickly grabbed garbage bags to throw things away in such as cans of beets that expired in 2005 and had leached through the can. In the end, I threw out about 5 garbage bags full of expired canned goods, and baking supplies like sugar and flour that were all as hard as rocks. After organizing the kitchen, I was excited to tackle the basement. (I know, I’m a weirdo who loves to organize things… when properly medicated that is (ADHD)).
At first, my grandfather-in-law was receptive at the idea of cleaning up the basement. But then he got kind of funny about it. He decided he better get down to the basement before C. (my hubby) or I went down there. Just like me, secretly throwing old food away, he waited for us to go out for the day and, at 90 years old, climbs down the rickety stairs and into the maze of things lost and sometimes found, (but usually not found until a new one has already been bought.) For example, he doesn’t have a dog, and hasn’t for at LEAST 30 years, but I found 5 heated dog bowls down there, 3 of them in the original packaging. In fact, my husband and I have decided to no longer shop for items we need before checking the basement. So far at the Lost and Never-Found Basement Store, we’ve picked up a spice rack, a paper shredder and a Pyrex lasagna pan. The prices couldn’t be better- FREE! My grandfather-in-law has no idea what he has and what he doesn’t have. Yes, we are horrible people. But back to the old man in the basement; he went down with a ladder and started moving things around. He did create a path that loops around the perimeter (for the most part) that allows us to maneuver around the piles of stuff. But the thought of my 90 year-old grandfather-in-law going down those dangerous stairs (even I’m nervous of falling) and climbing up on ladders, especially when he’s home alone, scares me more than Donald Trump being president of the United States (you know, because Trump can press “the button” at any time.)
So for now, my husband and I have decided against organizing the basement. We don’t want to be responsible for any accidents that could beFALL his grandfather down there. But for your viewing pleasure, I have taken photos of some of my favorite discoveries in the Lost and Never-Found Basement:
As you can see, there is a myriad of treasures in the Lost and Never-Found Basement, along with piles and piles of just plain junk. I guess some people just have difficulty parting with the past, so they hoard. But if you have so much stuff that you don’t even know what you have, then how can you enjoy those items with sentimental value?
If you or someone you know is a hoarder, JUST THROW THAT SHIT OUT! PLEASE! Just rip it off, like a band-aid. You can’t miss something you forgot you had in the first place. And objects are just that- things. They can’t stand in or replace people- and you’ll always have the most cherished parts of people you’ve lost in your memories of them.