I spent Sunday with my sister and niece…cleaning out my mother’s studio apartment. My mom is a very sweet woman…but housecleaning has never been a priority (and I’m putting that in the kindest possible way).

While my niece kept my mother occupied, my sister and I tossed and organized and tossed some more. We filled up giant black trash bags with…stuff. My mother has only lived in this apartment at her retirement facility about seven months so it’s astonishing that she has turned that little space into a packed-to-the-ceiling, no-horizontal-surface-space-left room.

And yet…she has!

A few years ago, we had to clean out my parents’ 3,000 square foot house. It took months! After each purging. I would leave their house feeling thoroughly drained, with only enough energy to take a hot bath and go to bed.

My sister has a little bit (maybe a lot) of my mother’s packrat tendencies. Wendy is really trying to correct that trait. (Her daughters have threatened her with abandonment if she doesn’t get a handle on her packratness.) Wendy has even hired an organizer lady, Ruth, to help her.

A few days ago, Ruth called to tell Wendy she was doing some talks to the public about organizing. “Would you mind if I took some ‘before’ pictures of your garage?” Ruth asked Wendy.

The thing is…there was no mention of any ‘after’ photos.

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