You may recall that I have written about my sweet Mom in a previous post titled, It’s Just a Bottle of Glue, where she insisted on keeping a dried-up bottle of glue when moving from my childhood home. So, the irony shouldn’t be lost on anyone that I stumbled upon a book titled, The Woman Who Saved Things by Phyllis Krasilovsky, among stacks and stacks of books while recently helping Mom tidy her guest room in preparation of guests.
Upon finding the book (and after my eyes rolled back into their proper place and I had successfully hidden my irritated smirk), I asked my Mom where in the world she got such a book. She sheepishly admitted that she picked it up at a garage sale years ago because the woman reminded her so much of herself. I knew I didn’t even need to read the book to know the main character and my sweet Mom most certainly shared the same collecting, saving, gathering, shopping, and love of STUFF!
Mom then gently forced the book on me saying that it would be good “homework” for me as a professional organizer. It should be noted here that Mom and I have an ongoing back and forth that is at times funny and playful and other times sensitive since I am most likely a professional organizer simply due to the fact that she is so not! Growing up in a house with lots of STUFF certainly had an impact on my troubled relationship with stuff. Oh, but that is a post for another day!
The Woman Who Saved Things is a quirky yet endearing tale of a woman who actually reminds me of a lot of people. The “Woman” loves to shop and the thrill of the hunt of a good bargain. She buys and keeps things “just in case” she needs them one day. She buys things because they are an incredible deal and she picks up others cast offs because she finds them interesting and has a myriad of plans to do with them “someday.”
At one point in the book, the Woman receives a letter from her out of state son saying that he and his family are coming for a week-long visit. The “Woman’s” reaction was poignant to me because she is stressed and frazzled as to how she is going to get ready for her guests because she has too much STUFF everywhere!
“One morning, the woman’s son wrote that he and his family were coming to visit. First, she was excited. Then she began to worry. What could she do to make room for them? Even the guest beds were covered with things she’d collected.”
The Woman decides to hold a porch sale to get rid of extra stuff so she would have room to enjoy and host her guests. Well, as most of us know, preparing for any kind of sale takes time and diligence…neither of which this sweet woman has. As she is gathering items for her sale, she is overwhelmed by the amount of stuff she keeps finding and realizes “she’d forgotten all about things that suddenly seemed valuable.”
This sense of everything having “seeming value” can make cleaning out a basement or preparing for guests an even more daunting task! Clearly, the Woman has a severe case of it because she ends up bringing almost everything back inside because she can’t bear to get rid of anything! She ends up falling asleep on her three-legged couch (she pulled out of someone’s trash) out of sheer exhaustion and wakes up to her son’s family arriving in the mess.
The Woman’s extremely patient and loving family begins to help her prepare for the sale and they actually do quite well in cleaning a lot out of the house and have a successful sale! In the process, they unearth some special items that conjure up fond memories and help them create new memories together.
The book ends with her family leaving feeling good about the state of Grandma’s house (and probably more than a bit worn out from all of the hard work and organizing they did during their visit!). The Woman is pleased and grateful.
“It was a relief not to have so many things around. She was glad her saving days were over.”
Oh, but don’t be fooled! This book does not end in such a neat and tidy way…the dust in the road from her son’s car pulling away was hardly settled before the Woman goes back out to collect, buy and save things.
“After everything was unloaded the woman realized she was right back where she’d started, saving things!”
Yes, old habits can be hard to break! I should know, I have been trying to ween my Mom off of saving things for years now. Oh, how I would love to rewrite the ending of the book with the Woman’s family bringing in the Bees of Bee Organized! The Bees would work with her to set up parameters and establish systems that help her find a healthy balance of saving, collecting and buying that she can live with. The Bees would help her find a home for all of the remaining stuff so that she doesn’t have to panic and fret the next time she has visitors coming.
While we don’t love the way The Woman Who Saved Things ended, your story’s ending could be different. You don’t have to be tied to your things, you don’t have to live in the mess and disorganization!
Call on Bee Organized and we promise to be just as loving and patient as the Woman’s family was to her – maybe even more!