I had quite an adventure last week at my Aunt Mary Ellen's home in California. Aunt Mary Ellen was a hoarder?? I thought I would share some stories I heard about her while I was there.
Please know that I tell these stories with real love and laughter.? Aunt Mary Ellen would have been thrilled to know that she was the center of a blog post. She would have laughed and told an even bigger, more elaborate story.
Everyone tried to help her, btw. She refused all cleaning and clearing help. Finding alcohol, however, was another matter.
1. One pot of coffee: My aunt made one pot of coffee a week and drank a cup a day. By day two, the pot was infested with breeding fruit flies. Undeterred, she would microwave a cup of coffee then skim the fruit flies off the top.
2. 'My friends': Aunt Mary Ellen used this term to describe the variety of vermin that lived in her house including rats, fruit flies, termites, and so on.
3. At night: Aunt Mary Ellen refused to get out of bed at night for fear of stepping on her 'friends' (rats).
4. Rolling around in the bushes: Recently Aunt Mary Ellen's across the street neighbor heard rustling in the bushes. Terrified of that it was robbers, she flipped on the exterior lights to find Aunt Mary Ellen and some guy rolling around - making out? screwing? Who knows? Seeing them, the neighbor flipped off the lights.
5. 10 feet of plastic grocery bags: When Aunt Mary Ellen went into the convalescent home the first time, a friend removed two truck loads of plastic grocery bags from the garage. He was in BIG trouble when she returned to find the bags gone.
6. The price tag: Aunt Mary Ellen never removed the price tag on an item as she was never sure if or when she would return it. That meant, for example, that light fixtures, hanging in place for twenty years, still had their original tags.
7. Calling the police: Every once and a while, no one is quite sure why, Aunt Mary Ellen would phone the police.? When they arrived, she would stand in the doorway in her bra and? underwear as if it was a booty call.
8. Toxic waste: They found over 100 mostly empty gallon Skye Vodka bottles lining the pool. They had vines growing over them so were nearly invisible. The contents filled a ten gallon trash can.? Of course, there was also three- five gallon cans of gasoline left over from the 1970s gas shortage. The cans were rusted and almost rotted through.
9. Guns: Aunt Mary Ellen was a 'collector'. She bragged about her antique gun collection. Upon inspection, she had two shotguns valued at $15 and a small automatic. I told them to look for the revolver that my grandfather kept. I have yet to hear where that was located.
10. Gowns and the QE2: About five years ago, Aunt Mary Ellen went on a QE2 trip with a good friend. In preparation, she purchased a number of expensive gowns (but kept the tags on, of course). She was heart broken that she didn't meet any men for mad passionate love on the boat. Of course, she hadn't bathed in a month.
11. At the nursing home: On a hunch, one of her doctors searched her room while she was away. The results?? 12 bottle of Jack Daniels and Skye Vodka AND copious quantities of non-prescribed pain killers, tranquilizers and whatever else.? When asked, she said that she didn't think the doctors meds were 'strong' enough. This is while she was doing chemo!
12. The Safe: This is one of my favorite stories. Aunt Mary Ellen told a number of people that she had a safe full of money. When they went to look for the safe, two people (unknown to the trustees) hovered around the building. When asked, they said that they were looking for the safe. At that moment, Aunt Mary Ellen's best friend said: "Oh, Mary Ellen gave me that safe about 10 years ago. She wasn't using it so thought I'd want it." When asked about the cash?? Her friend just laughed.
13. Ok, it's your turn. What kookie family stories do you have?? Write them in the comments and I'll add them to the post.
- "I had a great-aunt who hid money. She was a young adult during the depression, so she learned (and never unlearned) to scrimp and save. When she passed away, her kids found $2000 wrapped in tin foil in her freezer and several hundred dollars rolled up in the toes of her shoes. People are funny." Cap at the Friggin' Cat House
- "I used to clean house for an elderly German woman who would make that one pot of coffee on Sunday. I cleaned on Saturday, so guess how the brew tasted. She was blind, but she?d bake. She made a currant cake once and even baked it after she dropped it on the dog, which she thought was the cookie sheet. Well, she reassembled the cake, baked it, and served it to me a week later with a very stiff, dark cup of coffee. I was too polite too say no, and she was not blind enough to miss my tossing it out. She was a character." Sandy Carlson
- "My mom is a bit of a hoarder, but she keeps it to just one room. There is crap in there that hasn?t seen the light of day in twenty years. But it is all organized in see through bins?so she knows what is in there." Tommie at Tuesday Update
- "Flip?s grandfather used to play his fiddle dressed in nothing but a shower cap with his pet parakeet perched on the bow, and his aunt also kept money in her freezer. My family was too straight-laced to be that colorful." Heart in San Francisco
- "My mom and I went to my grandma?s 4th (5th?) wedding, and the bride wore black velvet hot pants. It was the 70s, but still." Darla at Nichtszusagen
- "I had a great uncle that would yell out ?Meat!? or ?Taters!? or ?Bread,? instead of asking the polite and proper way. Us kids could hardly contain our laughter till we got away from Grandma?s table." TC at the Write Gardner
- "My great grandmother had a whole room filled with cards she had received? about 90 year?s worth of them" Sarah at Puss ReBoots
- "Oh man, Aunt Mary was a trip. My grandmother went a little loopy after grandpa died. She started hiding things in odd places. The checkbook was in a covered saucepan on the back burner of the stove. Cash was folded up in towels in the linen closet. She hid her medication under the couch." Nicole Austin
- "My bipolar husband is a bit of a hoarder (yes, as in ?a bit pregnant?.) I try to contain it somewhat but if we both perished tomorrow the people who came to throw out our treasures would definitely shake their heads and tell similar stories. Your crazy Aunt Mary Ellen?s 10 feet of plastic grocery bags is my absolute favorite! We currently have a tendency to make pizza box towers, laundry mountains, eventually-heading-to-the-green-bin boxboard towers, and let?s not forget about our enormous collection of pop cans and bottles in blue bags waiting to go to the recycling place. Two weekends ago we took two car loads of 600 cans/bottles and snagged $30.00 for it. Sweet." Julia at Mind over Matter
- "My brother in-law discovered something really interesting in one of the cabinets that toppled down during a strong earthquake in my in-law?s house in Japan ?> A mummified fish enclosed in Ziploc!!? As per the ?experts? scrutiny?, it appeared that the fish in question was raw when it was placed in the plastic case and set aside in the wooden cabinet.? Estimated time passed since the fish was placed there: 15 years.? BTW, everyone thinks my mother in-law did that crime. I have a very strong hunch that it?s true." Grace at Sandier Pastures