I am a hoarder by nature. Beyond the obviously ephemeral, I have considerable trauma in getting rid of anything that has featured in my life, whether that be books, souvenirs, theatre programmes or a particular bugbear of mine, guidebooks to places I have visited. They just keep building up and gradually take over wherever I live to the point where it starts to become a nuisance.
I kind of grew into this; my parents were both hoarders too, so the recent efforts to clear my childhood home have been around clearing a lot of what can only be described as ‘stuff’. Some of this ‘stuff’ is useful and beyond the things that we wanted to keep – might come to that at some later point – anything we can find a home for we are keen to do – and so far we are doing pretty well via charity of specific rehoming, and that has made the whole process a lot easier than it might have been. But then there is the ‘stuff’ that no one would really want – the broken ornaments, the ‘rest your ash here’ ashtray in the shape of a toilet (and its ilk) – which I have no real idea what to do with. In the end, the very nice house clearance people that we used to clear the garden and garage waste (as an aside for those of you in the North I can heartily recommend Mawsons, based in the Team Valley, they were very good) will have to deal with what’s left – I cannot bring myself to put these kind of things in the bin, because, well, my Dad kept them for some reason. Possibly he did not notice them anymore, in the same way that you become acclimatised to a pervading smell. I don’t know. Maybe the house clearance folks will take a shine to something – they adopted the five-foot stuffed crocodile from a previous job after all – and that is a minor consolation.
What this process has brought home to me is my own situation. The Lovely Wife and I have no children. I am not sure of either of us want to leave a nightmare of a job to the executers of our will when we are no longer here. And, as things stand, that would be the case – and, with all hope, we have decades to add to the problem.
The alternative is to try and start making things simpler now.
People are reluctant to talk about the end of life and often avoid talking about it, but it is inevitable, and we do our friends and families and injustice by not doing at least the minimum of preparation. As an adult you should have a will, no matter how young you are, if only to make your wishes clear on what should happen in the case of your passing. It is very comforting to know that you are executing the wishes of the deceased, and that there is legal certainty around that. We have a will and, for various reasons, need to revise it, but I also need to start organising my ‘stuff’ so that when the time comes it is easier to deal with. It does not necessarily mean gifting things to others or indeed disposing of things although that will come into it, nor does it mean I intend quitting this earth anytime soon – I’m also looking forward to a less cluttered existence and when I think about ‘health’ as I look towards fifty, there is more to it than the obvious physical state to think about if the next phase of life is going to be an enjoyable and sustainable one.