The homework assignment I gave to the hoarder seemed to work, as she dove into the house with extra zeal. We went through the boxes again and managed to get a pretty large donation pile. Nothing sparked “joy” for her as much as not dying under a mountain of unopened Amazon boxes.
Through the first year we made real progress on the house. The first floor was completely decluttered and we were working on the upstairs bedrooms. Then, slowly, she lost the wind in her sails. I don’t know if she felt enough progress had been made or if the QVC gods were whispering in her ear. We miss you. Come back. This blue cardigan would really bring out your eyes.
Each time I went over, she wanted me to concentrate on cleaning more than decluttering. “We can get to it next time, the bathrooms really need cleaning (her husband needs to work on his aim) and the floors are a mess.”
“Sure.” As much as I like decluttering over cleaning, the money is just the same. Over time, the boxes starting creeping back into the foyer. And the clothes began materializing in the living room. I kept suggesting we continue on our mission, but she would always put it off for another day. Then just like that, like tide that you don’t notice inching closer until your chair is floating away, the house was back to the way it was when I started. To say I was discouraged is an understatement. But I continued my cleaning routine until I was just washing the trails of floor through the house and the corners of the countertops that were still visible.
Then, upon year five, I started to have respiratory problems as well. So that was the end of that. I called her up and politely told her what was wrong and I wouldn’t be able to work for her anymore. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “That is why my last cleaning lady left. She actually had to go to the hospital.” Thanks for the disclosure lady!
So I guess the moral of the story is that some things aren’t worth the money unless you like hospital food. And something about leading a horse to water and such.