a twist to the tale

People can you make sure you have your affairs in order before you die please? Go and get your will and your funeral plans and the name of your solicitor and put it in a big bright envelope with HERE I AM, LOOK AT ME written on the front then put it in the top drawer of your kitchen or your office drawer or a filing cabinet or somewhere someone can find it.

Especially if you’re going to turn out to be a hoarder.

Because we’ve discovered that Daz’s recently departed father Errol was a hoarder. We had suspicions because over the last couple of years he wouldn’t let any of the kids visit him at home. He’d never let anyone in the house and when Daz went to see him last year and said he’d stay there the night Errol said no they’d stay in a Motel.

But we had no idea of the scale of it. What a terrible mental illness. I must admit I am a fan of the tv show Hoarders so I wasn’t too shocked but Daz just can’t get his head around the whole concept. The policewoman who broke down the door and found his body doesn’t know how he was even getting in and out of the house to get to his room. Immediately inside the front door the 8ft high piles of boxes and bags began and they had to climb over them to find him. Daz has been working there cleaning for two days now and he said his legs are so sore it feels as if he’s spent the weekend mountain climbing.

There’s no rubbish in there it’s all mainly clothes and alcohol and shoes, belts, socks, undies. All still with the tags on and in packets. It’s like he went to the shops and thought – football jerseys. Why not get ten football jerseys. All different teams. Then I’ll just take them home and throw the bag on the floor and never look at them again. And then I’ll go back and do it again next week.  And the week after that, and that, and that. These things cost over $100 each. And shirts. You’ve never seen so many shirts. A dozen of the same, all with tags on, in the bags, on the floor. And scotch and bourbon. Boxes and boxes of it. Light bulbs. Daz tells me that no one in the family will ever have to buy a light globe again.

And then when the house is so full that you can’t get into it anymore, start filling up the cars that are sitting on the front lawn.

Funny though, yesterday Daz was outside sorting clothes and shoes out of one of the cars and the old chinese lady who lives across the road came over and stood there for about half an hour watching. Then she asked if she could have a pair of shoes for her son and Daz said – go for it. So she took a pair and toddled off home then turned up five minutes later because she’d locked herself out of the house and Daz had to go over and break into a window and let her in. Then about an hour later she turned up again and said – and when you’ve finished taking all those things out, I can put my things in. And Daz said – No man, nothing is going in there. And she said – I haven’t got room for all my clothes so I’ll put them in there. lol. Anyway he’d had to get the NRMA around to break into the car so it couldn’t be locked again and he just rang and told me that when he turned up at the house this morning the clothes were all out on the lawn and someone had taken the battery out of the car and I said – it was probably the chinese lady. And he said – she’s here right now watching me again.

Anyway the reason he was looking through the car is because they’re looking for paperwork. And it’s going to be bloody hard to find amongst all that stuff. Errol told one of the girls that he’d organised his funeral but no one knows where and there’s no big handy LOOK AT ME envelope sitting around on a table. We have no idea who his solicitor is. But he does appear to have kept every single piece of paperwork and mail he ever received over the past twenty years so hopefully it’s in there somewhere. It’s just a matter of finding it.  So the kids can’t really just get in there and toss stuff out, they have to look through every single envelope. We found $1,400.00 in an envelope on Friday. That’ll go towards cleaners and getting cars towed. There’s also been about $1000 in old paper notes so far lying around as well. And we think his mothers rosary beads which was a nice find. They are just lovely and will be something special for one of the girls.

Oh and there was a gun. Daz found a gun and bullets in there. He spoke to the policewoman and she said to drop it into a station. She said – but put it in a bag, just don’t walk in there with it in your bloody hand or you’re likely to get shot. So he was stuck in traffic on the way there and talking to me on his phone and I said imagine if you get pulled over for talking on the phone and they find the gun in your car. Bloody hell, we’d see him on the late news, cuffed and on the ground. Which would be kind of funny.  He said he remembers Errol buying the gun over thirty years ago. Anyway apparently there’s another one in the house somewhere. His ex rang and told them to keep an eye out for it.

It’s such a strange illness. It must be terribly confusing for the people who have it. And it makes his whole death seem even sadder and lonelier. And it’s pretty awful for his kids because he has no wife or partner so it’s up to them to sort through this whole mess.

So get things in order. And if you have this illness get some help.

Now I’m off to search for a wrecker to come and take these cars away before the chinese woman moves into one of them.


27 thoughts on “a twist to the tale

  1. Apparently the Chinese lady is a burgeoning hoarder herself? Or just a thief.

    People should keep their wills and such in safe deposit boxes at the bank (with someone else allowed access), or at least in some very prominent place at home.

  2. The social worker who was counseling me on my parents said a number of Asians had hoarding issues because so many of them were survivors of famines, war, labor camps, and just outright poverty. It sounds like that Chinese woman has the same problem and is likely mentally ill given that she wanted to store her stuff in your FIL’s house.

    It’s expensive, but you might want to hire a security firm to keep an eye on the house while you clean it out. Here in my hometown, dodgy people drive around, looking for houses where people have died or are obviously vacant; then they break in and grab whatever looks valuable. My aunt’s old vacant house looks like a prison because my father and brother put bars on the windows and doors and a huge fence around the property. They said someone had twice tried to break into the house and garage, and they did manage to make off with some car parts and tools.

    Isn’t your FIL’s will on file with the local—I guess city or provincial for you—courthouse? If he had an attorney make out one, the attorney would have filed a copy with the courthouse so your FIL’s property didn’t end up in probate.

    Finally, a construction dumpster makes cleaning out a hoader’s house a lot easier. They don’t cost that much if you only have it for a month or less, but I filled one to the brim when I cleaned out my parents’ house.

    Poor Daz. Honestly, you sometimes think that parents do this sort of thing to punish their kids for outliving them.

    • Funny you should mention that. Daz rang and told me that the whole family of chinese people from the across the road having been going back and forth all day taking stuff he puts out on the lawn back to their place.

      Someone will ring the supreme court tomorrow and find out about the will. Hope there’s one somewhere, I really don’t want to be involved in some family feud. Although I can’t imagine he has much money left after all these shopping trips he’s been having.

      And we did hire a skip but you only get it for a weekend. Daz tells me they’ll need it about ten times to get rid of everything. It’s taken them a whole day just to get clear out the foyer area. Bloody parents! I didn’t realise yours were hoarders when you wanted to do the parent swap thing. Sneaky.

  3. My grandfather not only had his entire funeral planned out, headstone and casket picked out, and the exact flowers he wanted on his grave … he even paid for it all to make sure he got what he wanted. I told my dad to take a lesson from that.

    • It’s a good idea. We think Errol may have done all that as well but he didn’t tell anyone where it was he wanted it done. He did talk about wanting to go where his parents are at one stage but it’s full there now so if we don’t find his paperwork he’ll just have to go where we put him!

  4. I’ve seen a few of the shows, but never actually knew someone (that I’m aware of) who has had to deal with the results of a hording relative. It’s got to be absolutely overwhelming.

    • We just think he must be going crazy wherever he is – seeing everyone throwing away all his stuff. And even thought we thought he was doing it it was still a big shock for the kids to actually see it and be amongst it.

  5. WOW. That is wild. And the Chinese lady on top of it all wanting to use cars on his lawn for storage?! Holy geez.
    So what is going to be done with all the brand new clothing and stuff you’re finding that you don’t keep? I guess donate it, huh?

    My dad wasn’t a hoarder but he was a little bit of a pack rat. But he had money hidden all over his bedroom my mom didn’t even know about. My mom found a lot of it but then a few years ago when my sister was helping her clean out the house before she moved, she found even more. She couldn’t just toss stuff, she almost tossed some and found money in there, so then she had to look through everything, I don’t remember how much but I think it was somewhere around $1000 also. My dad died in 1988, btw, and this was 20 years later she found all that dough. And, my dad grew up during the depression. He paid cash for almost everything (including the house) and also bought food that was on sale in large quantities (he died before any of those wholesale clubs came our way). We had a closet that was full of 2 liter bottles of soda.
    Well, I hope they find the important stuff soon. What a huge job. That is really sad.
    I guess I should start making a more concerted effort on cleaning up my junk…

    • I don’t know – ebay maybe? We need to go to one of those car boot sales and get rid of it. Otherwise donate it I guess. I just counted another thousand bucks. He had written little notes about things he had to buy then stapled money to the note. We’ve had our new polymer notes since 1988 I think so this was before that.

      lol – yes, stop buying stuff!!

      • When I went to Oz in 1988 I did get some of those polymer notes, so yeah, that sounds about right. That is nuts, like irony said, treasure hunt!
        Maybe you can return some of the newer stuff if the receipts are with them? But you could at least try to sell stuff in lots on eBay. It would be a lot of work to list it individually but if it’s 10 of the same thing, same size, you could probably get some $$ for it fairly easily.
        The alcohol you could donate to the local university, haha!

        • No receipts. Well there are but not anywhere near the items. Some of these things he must have bought over twenty years ago looking at the pictures on the packaging. But selling them as bundles is a good idea. Will have to hang them out for a while if I want to leave the tags on though because they smell a bit musty.

          I’m not game to gie the alcohol away in case it kills someone. There was a bottle of baileys there he bought in 1987 and that went straight in the bin. I might let Daz drink a bit of it first as a tester.

  6. Alcohol as a wife and tons of useless objets as joyous,turbulent and pervasive children … Sad journey in the jungle were struggled every day, this poor abandonnic old man …

  7. Oh I am so very sorry to hear you have all this to deal with.
    I’ve emptied out three of them, but only one was as bad as this sounds.
    And less brand new stuff, though some.

    Donate stuff and get tax write-offs – just bundle until big plastic bags and drop off by the carload.

    Chinese lady does sound scary.
    I would at least make sure locks work.

    • Three! I think the kids are really grateful there isn’t rubbish involved in this case, that must be awful. I think they’re taking trailers next week and taking the clothes to charity. Some of it could do with a wash but I wanted to leave the tags on. They just smell musty. Anyway we wouldn’t have time to wash it all.

      The locks have been fixed but Daz said even if someone broke in they wouldn’t want to stay. The whole of the front and back verandah’s are piled high with junk so she can get started on that if she likes.

  8. Oh boy! Even though I am feeling sorry for you guys, having to put all this time in effort into cleaning up after someone else who obviously has had some really serious issues, there’s a tiny bit inside myself that can’t help feeling “oooh treasure hunt” What kind of incredible things might show up. It’s weird – I know.
    Hope things can be done as fast as possible and you will be able to return to your normal lives.

    • Lol, I know what you mean. I’m staying well away from the place because I’d be thinking everything was worth keeping. Yesterday Daz bought home this huge bag of towels and some dressing gowns and I told him he has to be careful he doesn’t end up being a hoarder himself. He’s spent three days there now and said they’ve probably only cleared about 3%.

  9. Sound like the same sort of mess the widower who used to live across the street had when He tried to sell his house. The topper was he had hidden away in 2 cigar boxes, a bunch of silver .50 cent pieces in his attic, but was now too frial to get them (let alone remember where he pput them). The son of one of the neighbors poked around inthe fibergalss insulation and finally found both boxes; and for his trouble he was just given a word of thanks.

    • Thats one thing they are thankful for – he hadn’t started putting stuff in the roof space. There was a ladder near the manhole so maybe he was thinking about it but I don’t he’d have been healthy enough to climb it.

  10. Poor Daz. Maybe he’ll find a treasure trove of heating pads to take care of those sore legs. I’d be freaked out by the Chinese lady, too. Maybe he needs to have the police drop around to have a chat with her about stalking neighbors.

    When my dad died, I realized that I wanted to eliminate most of the extra crap from my life because I didn’t want my kids to have to deal with it. His house had three bedrooms and a full basement. And it was a FULL basement – a path front to back maybe 18 inches wide.

    My mother is horrible about buying all kinds of shit and stuffing it into her one-bedroom condo. She has a storage area where she keeps “important papers” – meaning the ones that won’t fit in the stacks around her apartment anymore. I shudder to think what will happen. She’s 78. It’s not unthinkable that her time is short.

    • Lol, well I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they found a whole room full of medical treatments and equipment.

      I thought that as time went on you wanted less stuff not more. I hate stuff now. I never want another bit of stuff.

  11. My grandfather got to be that way before he passed away, too. He got cancer, and when he finally was able to come home he discovered that my parents and I had been cleaning his house for a week prior. Stacks and stacks of newspapers, milk jugs, load after load of stuff went to the dump.

    In hindsight, I kind of wish we had waited until he had passed away, because it caused him a lot of stress to see his “treasures” thrown away. We didn’t want him spending his last days in a filthy crapheap, though. I really don’t know if we did the right thing. I feel for you guys, though, having to go through all of that stuff. Yikes!

    • I don’t know if you watch that show Hoarders on TV but these people are just so attached to their stuff. And when people start touching it and sorting it they get really freaked out and agitated. Daz said every time he’s there throwing stuff away he just pictures Errol up there watching and FREAKING OUT. It’s a tough call – it must be terrible to have an obsessive illness like that but then it’s hard for the family to have to come in afterwards and sort the mess out.

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