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.