Marlene's front yard was full of trash that was once a life. Inside, the women were cleaning out the house for sale or demolition, asking the same question over and over: Trash or treasure? Trash or treasure?
Cathy brought two dishes, one with food for Thomas and one with chili for the women. She kissed Thomas and told him he was free to come and go, since every time she took him home he'd just come back to Marlene's house. "I am not gonna force the issue. But whenever you're ready, you just tuck your chew toys under a wrinkle, and come on over."
She didn't even think to tell the women that Thomas was already hers. That he had saved her life, and Marlene's, the day she ran him over. That he was family.
"Yoo-hoo, hungry worker bees! I brought over some chili so you wouldn't have to worry about lunch."
The women had never met anything like Cathy before; they certainly didn't know her burdens. When they looked at her they saw a woman, richer and more beautiful than they were, involving herself with their mother and with this latest burden she'd placed on their shoulders. But she was funny, and nice, and she brought them chili, so they thanked her.
Cathy was horrified. Trash or treasure? Gina couldn't believe Marlene had saved her art projects from the second grade; Buttercup easily threw away a picture of Marlene and Eddie on their wedding day. Neither daughter wanted it, but only because they both had copies; Cathy asked to take it for her own.
"I hope whoever buys this place'll be happy here. It'll be so weird to look across the street and not see Marlene on her porch..."
They look at each other, the women. They blush and hope she won't be too much trouble.
"You won't see the porch either," says Buttercup, and Lorna explains her realtor friend told them it would be better to tear it down and sell the lot. Cathy was horrified; when Buttercup produced Marlene's old garden gloves, she snatched them away without thinking.
She hated when they called her hoarder, most of all. More than "trash or treasure," more than the fact that they didn't know the meaning of a single object. She wasn't a hoarder, she was a keeper. Of everything they threw away. She was old, and beautiful, and carried inside her cuckoo clocks and candlelight and cold mornings before school. She was icy Fresca and melted daiquiris and the best mom the Tolkes could have asked for, as adults. She kept the memory of Adam on the lawn, and Paul covered in chips; she kept the memory of Sean in the women's bathroom at a greasy spoon, blushing clear to his ears. Even as her memory was going, she was still the memory of the world. Not a fucking hoarder.