I’ve just returned from four days in West-by-God-Virginia. I’d gone up because Mama had finally decided it was time to shovel out her hovel. Or so I thought.
Let’s look at a few “before” pictures shall we?
That’s the living room. Somewhere under all of that is a coffee table, sofa, and two chairs.
I gave Mama a month’s notice that I was coming. I urged her to use that time to pluck from the piles anything she deemed worthy of keeping, reminding her time and time again of the reality that most of the junk in there had been buried for years and was thus not needed. In that month, she never once went out there. Also in that month, she never once bothered to have the utilities turned on. That’s right, I got there and it was 26 degrees in the house. And there was no water. Fortunately, the power company came and turned on the breakers, so by midday I could feel my fingers again. But the water was NEVER turned on. Why you ask? Because they require a photo ID to install service, and Mama can’t find her driver’s license. She hasn’t been able to find it for over a month, as she will remind anyone who asks why she has done absolutely NOTHING. “I’m afraid to drive!” Now, any normal person would have gone to the court house and gotten a copy of their birth certificate (required to replace a lost license now) and been done with the whole thing in a few hours time. Not Mama. She’d rather complain about what a pain it is to have to prove who you are for a few months and use it as an excuse to be lazy. Let’s take a bet on how long it will be til she has a replacement license. We’re at one month already. I’m betting it will be April.
So my plan was to bag up the hoard and be done with it, sending whatever might be useful to a church rummage sale, and the rest to the landfill. Scoop everything into bags and be done with it. Oh but no. Mama needed to go through it all.
And keep 98 percent of it. No matter if it was a size three dress with shoulder pads and an inch worth of dust on it. “Your granny Jones liked that one.” (Granny Jones has been gone, rest her soul, for almost 20 years, and would be the first one to tell her what a disgusting pigsty that place is.)
No matter if it was a prom gown gotten from a consignment store. “I can wear that to church!” No matter that she doesn’t go to church. Let alone that our town’s Fist Church of the Hoochie closed years ago. (A Prom gown to church?? Really??)
No matter if it was a t shirt, covered in mold from having sat at the bottom of a damp pile for years. “Oh, I can wash that with TIDE and it will be fine.”
No matter if it was a bag of rusted razors, and I pointed out that we’d just unearthed an unopened box of twenty brand news ones. “You can wash those off!” Maybe I should have just let her get tetanus.
Thank God my aunt, uncle, and cousin came by to help. While they distracted her, I furiously stuffed bags of garbage. From one small bathroom, I took three 50-gallon contractor bags full of half used shampoo, samples of body wash, 8 bottles of half used baby powder, 12 bottles of half used peroxide, and enough Dollar General brand face scrub to have cleaned every face in the state.
When I insisted that she throw away a pair of boots almost identical to these:
She wouldn’t hear of it. Insisting that “the girls are wearin’ those again!“
So for two long days, that was my battle. I tossed out an enormous shopping bag full of old pills. Mostly “Paxil”. When I asked her why she kept filling the prescription when she clearly wasn’t taking them, she said “Well, they prescribed em to me.” When I pointed out that it was a colossal waste of money, she said “Oh I don’t have to pay anything on prescriptions.” Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen.
We unearthed literally thousands of dollars worth of horrible clothes, plastic headbands, socks, and shoes that had never even had the tags taken off of them. When I tried to throw away a spaghetti strainer (one of three identical ones unearthed below a pile of tattered towels in the corner of the living room), she snatched it back from the trash. I pointed out that something sticky had been spilled all over it and it was coated with cigarette ashes and hair, and that there were two good ones that she could keep, she wouldn’t hear it. Why a woman who doesn’t cook needs three spaghetti strainers is beyond me.
She kept repeating over and over “I caint believe damn thieves would do this to a person.”, attempting to absolve herself from any responsibility for the condition of the house. “They didn’t bring all this shit in here! If anything, they helped you by getting some of it out.”
So after two days, I had managed to get 22 of the 50-gallon bags of trash out of the house. (Many of them filled with whatever I could put my hands on while she was distracted by family members or taking her every-ten-minute smoke breaks.) Six more bags went to the church rummage sale. And, save for one bathroom, it absolutely looked like nothing had been done. We were supposed to put in another day at it, but shock of shocks, Mama called to say she was just “wore plumb out” and had worked too hard. She’d need to get a good nights sleep and go back to it first of the week after her back stopped hurting. You can bet she’ll never touch it again.
Oh well, I tried.
One happy thing happened, though. As we digged through the piles, we kept uncovering things she had alleged were stolen. She couldn’t imagine why a thief would take her sex toys, so imagine her joy when she discovered her battery operated boyfriend had graciously been left behind.