Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


April 14, 2014

Uncovering forgotten treasures

ASHLAND — You know the big difference between me and a hoarder? I mean, except that you can walk through my house and there are none of the disgusting aspects of hoarding in my life.

When I uncover things I remember why I bought them.

Watching those shows about people with hoarding disorders make me feel better about my own housekeeping habits. At least I make the bed every day, I reassure myself, and no one’s ever run screaming from my bathroom.

I’m just messy. And sentimental.

But as I look at the growing stack of mail and books on the table by my chair, I wonder if I’m heading toward chaos.

Is it normal, I wonder, to have a big wad of keys and not know what any of them go to?

Or to have two storage cabinets full of dishes, platters and plates that I use once a year at most?

I think it is. Everything’s cleaned and stacked in those cabinets and if you want to sit down at my house, the most you have to move is a cat. The dogs are polite and get down by themselves.

As the winter receded and spring sprang, I tackled my bedroom, the most ignored room of the house. I’m only in there when I sleep and for the short time it takes me to get dressed, after all. And no one else goes in there. If I want to stack my T-shirts on top of the seasonal clothes that are on top of a dresser, it’s no one’s business but mine.

And it makes the little discoveries so sweet.

I sorted through a stack of summer clothes with the idea of getting rid of those that don’t fit or are no longer to my taste. As I picked up the dozen or so items from the dresser top, a box of crayons fell to the floor.

I remembered buying those. It was probably last September or October. The box is cute, with Disney princesses on it, and I also bought a coloring book to match. The set was so cheap on sale, and I do have girls around who like to color.

Also uncovered was a blouse that was a gift to me and which I’ve never worn. It’s a nice blouse, but the cut and design just aren’t me. I should have gotten rid of it soon after I received it, but I felt guilty giving away a present, even if I can’t ever see myself in it.

I’ve described my mother as a “neat hoarder” because she kept all sorts of things. When we cleared the house after her death, we found several boxes of cardboard rolls that once supported paper towels, enough Christmas paper for a good-sized community and so much canned food in the kitchen that it took up the whole back seat on a food pantry run.

It’s because she lived in a big house. When things started to pile up, she’d buy more shelves and more plastic boxes to fill those shelves. It was amazing what we found in those boxes, from family documents to newspaper clippings about a flower or state park.

My children have already expressed concerns about what my house will look like when I die. I’ve already told them I don’t intend to leave a lot of stuff behind that they don’t know what to do with.

They think that means getting rid of possessions before I go. They’re in for quite a surprise when they learn that I’m going to keep hanging onto things and sticky-note it all with a recipient’s name on each piece.

I’m sure they’ll treasure each measuring cup and cutesy tape dispense, too.

CATHIE SHAFFER can be reached at cathieshaffer@zoominternet.net

Text Only