For as long as I can remember, my mother's home has always been cluttered. She didn't like to do dishes, there was always a pile of papers on the dinning room table, and the laundry was never quite complete. It was annoying, but manageable.
Fall 1996 things started to really change. Mom bought a house of her own instead of apartments that she had to keep clean to impress the landlords. The extra bedroom should have been a red flag. On moving day, anything and everything that was not of everyday use went into that back bedroom. Before long, it was filled to capacity, where even the door wouldn't shut, and there was still more objects to be moved into the house. She decided to split the living room in half and use the back portion of it for "extra storage."
While things were starting to get messy, the junk was still relatively under control until 1998. That year mom got severely sick. She was on the couch for three weeks, barely able to move let along do any menial house chores. Half her face fell victim to Bell's Palsy, taking away her major source of comfort: smoking.
With the illness other changes started in her life. The illness had been harsh on her stomach which she blamed on her antidepressants, so she quit them. Without their aid the house fell apart. Where there used to be a table covered with papers, there became a mound of papers hovering over another mound of more nefarious objects. There was no longer a living room with functioning furniture, just piles of extra stuff that "could be used for something someday." The kitchen disappeared, it became a stove surrounded by tinder just waiting for a spark. Each year the piles grew until there were only pathways throughout the house, a lone rocking chair for television viewing, a computer screen glow back-dropped in a file clerk's nightmare.