Kat was still laid up. Kylie’s been a regular visitor but all she ever wanted to do was pick through Kat’s stuff, throw stuff out and talk about hoarding. She had a list of decluttering projects a mile long. Sometimes Kat could hear her rummaging around in the shed but had no idea what Kylie was up to. It felt like it wasn’t even Kat’s own house any more.
A couple of weeks ago Kylie found 7 bags of baby clothes Kat had been saving all these years. Kylie wanted to sort through them, give some to charity and send the rest to some organisation she found that recycles fabrics.
“You’ll like that, won’t you mum, because you’re very concerned about clothes going into landfill.”
Kat wanted to scream. “No! I’ve saved those so I can remember when you were so tiny.”
“But you have photos and the plaster cast of my feet, my old teddies and all my school books and artwork. Besides, your memory is just fine, and I won’t let you forget me.”
Kat felt cornered and lashed out. “Until you can respect my belongings, get out of my house!”
Kylie didn’t know what to do or where to turn. She felt alone and powerless. Is she the only one going through this? In desperation she vented her frustration on Facebook so the whole world would know how alone she really felt. A concerned friend sent her a private message and suggested calling a professional organiser.
Google brought her to Jane, who specialises in hoarding situations and lives right nearby. She made the call. What a refreshing surprise! Not only does Jane deal with these situations all the time, but she listened, and offered good insight. One thing Jane said, that Kylie had never considered before, was actually nothing to do with decluttering. She reminded Kylie that there’s more to her relationship with her mother than the stuff. She urged Kylie to focus on their bond first, and the stuff second. If every conversation was about Kat’s hoarding, then Kat would quickly feel disrespected and defensive. Kat’s last words to Kylie were now ringing in her head again. “That makes so much sense”, she thought. “Why haven’t I seen it before?”
Kylie told Jane all about the 7 bags of baby clothes and how most of it was stained and moth-eaten, but her mother wouldn’t let it go.
Jane said, “It’s really hard to change your mother’s beliefs, so why not try a creative work around? What about taking the best of the clothes and finding a way to honour them? I’ve seen some lovely quilts made from pieces of baby clothes sewn together.”
The next time Kylie visited Kat, she came with a different attitude and a suggestion that made Kat smile. Over the next week they spent time together sorting through the baby clothes, reminiscing and sharing stories, as they selected the best pieces to go into a quilt that would eventually hang on the wall of the guest room. Kat could picture it in her mind… her granddaughter would come to stay in that guest room, and they would share the memories together.
Even better, once they’d chosen the best pieces, Kat was willing to let go of the tatty remnants and not look back. 6 whole bags went out the door with no argument.
They were on a roll, and Kylie was determined to make this a positive step in the right direction. She knows that an unfinished project is just more clutter. But Jane gave her the phone number of someone who sews memory quilts. Kylie plans to surprise Kat with the finished product to celebrate the big step forward.
Kylie was excited for the next project, but she channelled her “inner Jane” and showed restraint. They could start culling the photo collection another time. Now was not the time to overwhelm her mum.
Catch up on the past Adventures of Kat here…