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Author: minnesotagirl Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 37112  
Subject: motivation to declutter (long) Date: 5/13/2005 6:59 AM
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I've been meaning to post this story for a while. A few months ago my next-door neighbor died at the age of 88. While he was hospitalized (he had to have his leg amputated) his grown children convinced their mother to move into an assisted living apartment, and when he died they decided to sell the house to a developer who is tearing down the ranch houses on our street to make way for "executive custom homes" in the $600K-$700K range.

So they had to clean out the house. My neighbors had lived there since 1955, and I swear they hadn't thrown anything away. The husband liked to fix things, so they had at least 25 old bicycles in the shed in the back (along with several hand mowers, antique equipment of various sorts, and a large boat that apparently would never see water again). The wife told us that he used to buy things without telling her and just pack them away in the basement. They had two old vans parked next to our house, which were used as storage. The wife collected holiday decorations (especially of the singing/moving/flashing sort) and had so many she couldn't display them all at once. They had also inherited and sold a house from her cousin, so they had packed their basement full of the cousin's stuff. You get the picture.

The son who lives in town (near retirement age himself) had to spend every weekend for a couple of months clearing things out, sometimes assisted by other family members but mostly by himself. They couldn't throw papers away without looking through them individually because they found a big stack of money between the pages of some document. They got rid of 3 huge dumpsters full of junk before the estate sale, which lasted for three days. The wife came to the sale and sat on the couch while watching strangers go through 50 years of her stuff. At one point I witnessed a nasty argument between the wife and the son about whether she should be allowed to bring her collection of singing Christmas toys to her new apartment.

It was not a happy scene, and the family was miserable for months as they tried to sort through all the stuff.

Moral of the story: don't do this to your family. If you don't love something, don't keep it. You can't take it with you, and someone is going to have to clean up after you if you don't do it yourself.

Now I'm off to do my 15 minutes of decluttering for the day!

MNgal
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