The month of November is wrapping up with one of my favorite holidays: Thanksgiving. It is a great reminder to be thankful for the many blessing we have in life. I was reminded of that these past few weeks as my team and I tackled a very intense job. In two days, we cleaned out the apartment of an elderly man living in low income housing. He never married, had no children, and was a recluse. Due to poor health, he is now in the hospital. I classified his apartment as stage four hoarding. It hadn’t been cleaned in many years and nothing had been thrown away.
His life, which seemed so sad and lonely, was reflected in the things he kept. Sorting through the piles of garbage we found very few salvageable items. The few treasures we did find told us a few things about him. We discovered he worked as a journalist, served in Vietnam, attended the Seattle World’s Fair, and collected Jazz LP’s. However, these few delights were hidden away under piles of garbage, dust and neglect. Out of all the things in his apartment, we were only able to salvage a carload of items to be donated.
We didn’t feel good walking away from this job. We were saddened that someone’s life was now in so many garbage bags; sad that no one knew the extent of his disorder; sad that he placed so much emphasis on meaningless things, but didn’t share much of his life with anyone.
This man is a relative of mine.
It was once again a wake up call for us – a reminder to stop attaching memories to things and build relationships with people. Cherish those around you because eventually all things will perish and only the memories will remain. Don’t leave a house full of things for your children or relatives to deal with. If the task seems too daunting, then reach out for help. I so wish I could have helped him a long time ago…maybe then his treasures could have been enjoyed, not stashed away amongst piles of trash. If you or someone you know is struggling with too much stuff we would love to help.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moss and rust destroy…but store up for yourselves in heaven…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19