Kathy’s Dad passed away in his own house, his last rattling breaths aided by the morphine his daughter poured down his ancient mouth. He lived alone in the old place for decades. Germs terrified him. He secured the windows with plastic. The air inside turned stale and rancid. He roamed the neighborhood at night, searching for cans and bottles. He filled the house with old lawnmowers, pieces of scrap metal, newspapers piled to the ceiling. Kathy inherited this rotting, junk filled dwelling. Over the next year, she and her husband Neil renovated. All the plumbing and electric wiring renewed, a new shingle roof, restored walls and floors. The father’s piles of tools and newspapers, old tiles and bottles all recycled, usurped by Kathy’s stuffed toys and hangers full of vintage and antique clothing, her hundreds of art books and coffee table volumes about Hollywood stars, her garbage bags and boxes packed with blankets.
His sister had suggested he contacted the TV production company that made the programme about hoarders. Those strange folks who collect things from bins, who live in houses so filled with clutter that they’ve been reduced to a small window of space in a back bedroom. Sometimes they’re rescued through a gap in the rubbish bags by the fire brigade. They argue until they’re blue in the face about the possible future utility of a broken coat hanger or a plastic duck.