2013 Update: Going on Three Years

It’s been nearly three years since Greg re-entered his childhood home and began to clean out the hoard within. The project continues. But so much – and so little – has changed.

The hoarding strained an already stressed relationship with his longtime girlfriend Sidney. Both admittedly drank too much. And eventually they parted ways. A short time later, Sidney succumbed to complications from liver disease. And now Greg has two homes to sift through. The one he owned with Sidney in Burbank. And the one he owns in San Diego – the hoard house. “My goal now is to get this [Burbank] house ready for sale,” Greg told me in February. “No reason to stay here anymore. And then once I’m [in San Diego] full time I can focus. I’ll have no excuse.”

Focus has been elusive. And excuses, like the hoard, have simply piled up. “It just kind of came to a stop with the house,” Greg admits. “Once I got all the donations and the trash and the filth out of there, then what’s left – what I call the ‘good stuff’, that’s where I’ve had a hard time.” He busied himself with yard work, making the outside look nice, while the inside remained a live-in storage facility. Nothing resembling a “home”.

Greg acknowledges the pace of progress, or lack thereof, did not sit well with Sidney. “I believe she thought I put the house, the hoard house, in front of her. I don’t know if she felt abandoned. She may have. I don’t blame her. I didn’t abandon her on purpose. When I think about it, I was going down there and not doing much. I think it really took a toll on her… she started drinking more… I’ve been thinking lately, you know, if it wasn’t for that hoard, she’d still be alive today. That’s what I’m thinking. Would we still be together? I don’t know, ‘cause we had our problems anyway.”

I didn’t know Sidney all that long, but my sense is that she wouldn’t blame Greg, or the hoard, for her passing. She took responsibility for her choices and actions. But one thing is for sure. Sidney would want Greg to finish the project – not just for himself, but for all children of hoarders and their loved ones. It’s a cause she advocated to the very end.

Will ‘the project’ ever be done?

“Will it ever be done? That’s a really good question,” Greg concedes. “I think I need to improve myself before I improve the project… There’s a long road ahead… But I do have a good outlook right now. And if anything, I have to do it for Sidney. Well, for myself number one. But for her too – and for her memory.”

Once again, time will tell.

hb

(Read the full story, from the beginning)

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§ 7 Responses to 2013 Update: Going on Three Years

  • Alicia says:

    I only talked to Sid a few times through her blog comments, so I didn’t know her very well at all.

    To her friends, I just wanted to say that I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you. I know it doesn’t mean much coming from some stranger on the internet, but I just wanted to send out my condolences.

    I hope Greg can get his act together and get rid of that hoard.

  • susan says:

    No one gets up at a memorial and calls the deceased a snippy, snarky drunk who had so much potential… Some of us actually DID know her and were overwhelmed with sadness. Still are.

  • Angela Cunningham says:

    It’s unfortunate that no one else will say it. Mostly, it’s most unfortunate that Sid is not here to say it herself. But the more I think about it, the more I know she wouldn’t have been able to. This “hoard house” will never be complete. Ever. Greg doesn’t have it in in him to finish it. Sid didn’t have it in her to see whether he would. Alcohol got in the way, that’s true. But the alcohol was only a crutch for the two broken people who set out on this venture. And the “blogging” (yes, it’s in quotation marks) was simply an excuse to sit at home and drink. And not solve the problem. Which made for more drinking.

    So, to Beverly and the other would-be writers and everyone else who befriended Sidney during the last few years of her life, here is the real deal: the person you knew wasn’t Sidney. She was a person who had fallen so deep into a bottle that those of us who had known her for most of her life barely recognized her. We were appalled at the things she was writing: her attitude, her voice, simply wasn’t the Sidney we knew. She was snarky, she was unpleasant. She made editing errors. Funny thing is, that’s when I knew, really and truly, how drunk she was when she was posting.

    During the memorial service, I wondered whether I was the only person who was feeling that many of the people who were speaking didn’t really know Sid at all. I found out afterward that I was hardly alone. It was so tough for all of us to hear people who barely knew her speak about her wonderful qualities when those were the very qualities we knew were absolutely the warning signs that she was leaving us.

    Nothing personal here. Beverly, I wish you the best. Greg, good luck. But don’t ever believe for a minute that your last hours with Sidney were her best. They were simply the end of a road that couldn’t be changed.

    • Stephanie Richardson. says:

      I first knew she wasn’t herself when I had Sophia. She didn’t come see me or Sophia until she was 3 months old. I know kids weren’t her thing but I was.
      My last memory of her and the girls isn’t pretty. She was snippy and short with them. She treated them like they were a stranger’s kids.We were at my mom’s. She said she wanted to hang out with just me and my husband. I know she just needed to get out and have a drink. She said if it bothered me she wouldn’t drink. If I had said it bothered me she may have just cut me out of her life. I couldn’t win this one.
      But I know that wasn’t my best friend anymore. It was just someone holding on to a life she had created with alcohol. I should have done more and enabled less. I spoke up too late. I now live with that everyday.

      • beverlydiehl says:

        Stephanie, it’s really easy playing the “if only” game. You loved her, and you did the best you could, while at the same time living your own life (as you deserved to, as your children and husband needed you to). It’s altogether possible you could have thrown your own family under the bus and “done more, enabled less” and the outcome would’ve been the same, or perhaps worse.

        Hugs and healing to you.

  • Karin says:

    Thank you for the update. Greg, you still have a lot of people pulling for you. Don’t give up!

  • beverlydiehl says:

    Hannah, thank you for following up, and Greg, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. Been wondering how you were doing.

    Yes, please, get it done. Of course you should do it for you, but if that isn’t sufficient motivation, so it for Sid. It’s like you would be giving hoarding a black eye – you know you want to.

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