A Lesson from a Hoarder


My grandmother is one of my favorite topics.  She was born in 1911 and passed away with her complete mind intact at the age of 107-1/2 in 2018.  She lived through WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, etc.

If you think about it, she lived through the Great Depression along with the collapse of the oil market, the banking market, the financial markets, etc.  What does this do to a person?  It creates a hoarder.  My grandmother was a hoarder, but not like you think.  She did not hoard all things like toilet paper, books, hair color, etc.  In her 80’s, she scaled down her life to a 2/2 condo in Florida.  When she outlived her third husband, she moved to a  smaller 2/2 apartment with no maintenance.  Then, at 106, she moved to a rehab center where she happily lived in a hospital room.   In all of this, she had to downsize a lot.

So what did she hoard?  Food and alcohol.  We would go to a restaurant, and she would add whatever removable items were on the table to her purse, including all of the sugar packets, crackers, salt and pepper shakers, the sugar packet holder, candles, candleholders, matches, napkins, silverware, cups, glasses and a plate here and there. She carried a large purse.  She even traveled with extra food.  Before she left her 2/2 apartment, I looked in the refrigerator and freezer.  I was so astounded I had to take a picture.  You could not have possibly fit a single wafer-thin mint in the freezer! She always wanted lots of food on hand because that is what Italian mothers and grandmothers do.  They expect their families to visit, to visit multiple times, and to eat.  It’s offensive if you do not eat, especially when they have gone to great lengths to hoard food so they can prepare a great meal for your arrival.

(Ann and me on the left, the fridge / freezer of a 104 year old on the right)

What you cannot see are the mason jars full of Jack Daniels that she would get from the staff during happy hour.  Not sure where she kept that stash, I just know that I was going to be full and drunk every time I visited.

What’s the lesson I learned from her?  What’s the point of hoarding.  When you hoard, all your doing is preventing others from getting essentials they need, driving up costs, and causing cooks to over order what is needed, and for what.  The food will eventually go bad and you would not have shared it or have done anything positive with it.   Do something positive … don’t hoard!

Carpe Diem


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