“Mom,” I told her, “you’ve got to take it easy. You can’t tire yourself out like that.”
You have to understand that my mother is a neat freak – no, worse than that, she’s a clean freak. She likes her home to be pretty much hygenically clean. The corners have to be spotless and there can be no dust or grime inside any cupboards or drawers. She has waxed floors that are actually no-wax lino. She has waxed the insides of her glass shower doors so that the soapy water just slides off and she has little cleaning to do each time she showers. She has attacked those channels where windows slide open with a sharp knife to remove every tiny bit of dirt. She has scrubbed the outside of her house, for heaven’s sake!
And Mom thinks I am a slob because I do none of that.
My house isn’t a mess by any stretch of the imagination. I do clean regularly, just not the way my mom does. I don’t scrub meticulously in corners every time I wash a floor, nor have I ever waxed my shower doors. I occasionally even wash windows, both inside and outside. I do dust and vacuum and clean kitchens and bathrooms reasonably well, and laundry never piles up overmuch. Clutter bothers me enough that I almost always put things away immediately, which is a constant bone of contention between me and DD. She is frequently heard to wail, “M – o – o – m!!! Leave my stuff al- o – o- ne! I can’t find anything when you put my stuff away!” I usually tell her sniffily that if she’d put things away where they belong in the first place, this wouldn’t be a problem.
But I am not up to my mother’s standards, not by a long shot. And because she is eighty years old and is slowing down somewhat (ha!), I have taken over the vacuuming in her condo, as that’s the job she finds the toughest now. I do this every ten days or so, and although she has never let on that she is disappointed in the job I do (which is, of course, much more thorough than in my own home), every few times she “suggests” that we move furniture so that I can vacuum beneath it, or that I do under the beds this time because she spotted one small piece of fluff that might have originated there. I try to do as she asks. She’s my mother, after all, and she really asks very little of me, overall.
But here she was, going on and on about all the cleaning she was doing. In fact, she claimed that she was doing her spring cleaning, only in the fall this time.
Who actually does spring cleaning any more, anyway? My mom, obviously.
She told me that she was cleaning out all her drawers and cupboards and closets, climbing up and wiping down light fixtures, dragging out her fridge and vacuuming behind it – and I was getting a little alarmed. I mean, the woman is eighty! How much energy does she have??
“Oh, I’m going very slowly,” she assured me. “I vacuum a little, then I sit down to rest for ten minutes or so. I can clean lots of things sitting down. And I’m taking Friday off because I’m going bowling.”
Okay, but …
“And here’s the best part!” she continued, all happy and pleased with herself. “I was vacuuming in the spare bedroom and there seemed to be something in the electric wall heater. So I sat down and messed around with it a bit, and guess what was in there? An American twenty-dollar bill, all folded up! I never put it there, so I guess the lady who owned this place before me had done it and she forgot about it.”
Yes, my mother goes on a cleaning rampage and comes out with twenty dollars US. Unbelievable.
You can bet that she’s now checking all the other wall heaters in her condo. Maybe there’s more money somewhere there.