(Names have been changed.)
We got a call from Marybeth’s daughter, Anna, last year. She wasn’t sure what kind of help she wanted or needed, but her concern for her mother was obvious. She tentatively began to explain that she always knew she hadn’t inherited her tidy ways from her mom, a woman of excessive clutter.
Her mom had been a much loved and well-respected administrator at the local Catholic high school for many years. But her desk had quite a reputation for its mountains of paperwork, often overflowing to piles of files on the floor. Their home had a similar feel to it, and Anna, who adored her happy-go-lucky mom, was happy when it was time to leave and set up her own household, with everything in its place.
Anna went on to say that her father had taken very ill the year prior, and when she visited him at home, she noticed that the house looked particularly disheveled and crowded. It was understandable. Dad was sick, and mom, never fond of cleaning up anyway, was fully focused on caring for dad.
When Anna’s dad died 6 months later, Marybeth took it very hard. Anna noticed the house was worse each time she went to see her mom. She offered to do some cleaning, but mom shoed her away, insisting she’d get to it soon.