Saturday, November 03, 2007
The degree of filth I encountered is beyond comprehension
I'm not very good when it comes to housework. You all know that Bubba does most of it, anyway. Our house is almost always tidy but you can't necessarily eat off the floors, ya know? Not every day, anyway.

I don't much care how other people keep house. As long as I don't step in animal excrement or see roaches scurrying around, I'm good. Clutter? I get it. I don't mind if other people's houses are cluttered. Seeing clutter means they have a life.

Well, I have this aunt who has gone beyond the realms of clutter and dirt. This aunt of mine has lived in the same apartment for 30+ years. It's an upstairs house apartment. The house itself is VERY old and run down in a really bad neighborhood.

Now, I am going to tell you some things that are embarrassing, frustrating and depressing all wrapped up into one shiny package. The aunt I'm talking about is a pack rat to the nth degree. We all have kind of known this forever, but hadn't really SEEN the evidence. We knew that she had bought hundreds of Beanie Babies, Boyd's Bears, dolls and books and who knows what else.

The apartment this aunt lives in has steep, outside stairs leading to it which are dangerous in the winter and just plain scary all the time. It has no air-conditioning so it was sweltering hot in the summer. It has old and/or bad wiring so she can't plug much into outlets. As my aunt has aged we have suggested, begged, and pleaded for her to move. To no avail.

A year or so ago, my cousin started helping the aunt clean stuff out of her apartment. Cousin told us how bad the apartment was. I guess you just don't want to believe something like that unless you actually see it.

6 months ago, the electric got cut off at her place. (she didn't have to pay, the, slumlord, took care of utilities.) She couldn't get answers from the new owners of the house. No electric. For. Six. Months. She hasn't had water for a long time, either. Hence everyone trying to make her move. She was stubborn and refused.

Fast Forward to today. There is more to the back story, but she finally signed papers for a new apartment in a nice apartment complex here in town. So, that means we have to help her move. We meaning family and one of her good friends. She's never been married nor has she had kids.

I spent the day helping her and we've barely scratched the surface. Which, you wouldn't want to scratch the surface for fear of catching some strange disease.

In the days previous, my aunt and her friend had cleared out 70 trash bags full of trash. Newspapers, papers of all kinds, empty drink cups, etc. That's right, I said SEVENTY. I am not exaggerating as I saw them with my own two eyes.

When I looked in the front door for the first time today, I was in shock. Visible dirt and dust everywhere. Big, thick dirty cobwebs hanging everywhere on everything. Pieces of ceiling falling in every room. (that I could see without actually going all the way in.) And stuff! The "stuff" is piled EVERYWHERE. There's a particular alcove-ish like thing when you first walk in. Sacks and clothes and stuff piled six feet high and 5 feet deep. I am not joking. There were boxes and boxes of books. Bags with books in them. Clothes everywhere. Sacks of yarn and fleece. (she knits and makes fleece blankets.) Bills and papers and GOD the dirt! I can't even adequately describe the filth. But, if this tells you anything, I wore latex gloves all day. It was that bad.

I remember when I was little, probably 6 or 7, and my cousin and I would stay all night with her. We'd make homemade pizza and drink Coke from bottles. We thought her place was so cool. Somewhere along the way, she stopped letting anyone into her apartment. That must be when it started getting bad.

How did someone in my family turn into this pack-rat bag lady of a person?? (her personal hygiene is questionable as well. That's a whole other post.) Why did she allow her home to get that way? Why did she continue to stay there? Why didn't she ask for help before now? Why? Why? Why? I wish I knew all the answers.

It's hard to hit the publish button right now. These kinds of things, well, they are the stuff of skeletons in the closet for some families.


posted by Angie @ 11:10 PM  
  • At 8:38 AM, Blogger DrillerAA said…

    I know a few people who have those tendencies. That is, to collect everything and not throw anything away. Most of them are Children of the Depression. They know what it is like to have absolutely nothing. They know what it is like to be hungry. They know what it is like to be "dirt poor". Most of these folks are now in their 80's. Somewhere along the way, they resolved to never have nothing again. The result is that they often turn into the pack rat that you have described. The dirt just comes with the territory.
    I also know a person who is a "Baby Boomer" and has the same issues. Her house is a dump, and that is being kind. I don't have an explanation for that.

  • At 3:44 PM, Blogger Melinda Zook said…

    I don't think it is anything to be ashamed of. I had a similar situation with my great grandmom. She lived in the same house til she was 96. Alone. Yes, I said, alone.
    She refused to move and so people would just have to bring her food and things she needed. Her place was relatively clean though except for an issue with the plumbing. She often had problems with the toilet overflowing and the family never quite got the problem fixed. I used to feel so bad. My uncle just couldn't keep up with it. It was awful, toward the end her house smelled like sewage yet she continued to not want to move or let anyone live with her. She has since passed away but I bet they had trouble selling her place because of that smell.

  • At 10:30 PM, Blogger TLR said…

    Dang Angie, I think we have the same Aunt

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