I was going to share some fiction with you today, but I didn't get it written in time. If you'd like to check out what I have in progress right now on my blog, you can click GATHERING BUTTERCUPS and read the story so far or you can click Kimmy & David, the story I wrote last year.
Instead, I am reposting a favorite memoir piece of mine about me, my mom and the way we solve problems. I am sure every woman can relate on some level, even if you don't come from a very CLEAN family like mine.
Here is Cleaning House:
I come from a long line of women who believed that in order to remain sane,
the house must be dust free.
My earliest memories of bonding with my mother on a Saturday involved , not a trip to the mall with a vanilla shake between us, but rather the smell of lemon polish on my father's old Tshirts, her voice telling me that they were good to use because they had been washed to a softness that wouldn't scratch our tables.
And while the amount and extent of those cleanings could run the gamit of the OCD spectrum, where baseboards and windows were a part of weekly cleanings, I grew to look forward to the times when our tasks were merely the background music for the retelling of stories from my mom's memory.
We would fold clothes and I could relive her years in nursing school, sneaking cigarettes and shining the white shoes of the seniors on her floor. Her hazing , her time in the Operating Rooms and run ins with the house mother of her dorm making an entire season of Grey's Anatomy look tame and uneventful.
Those stories are what made those days of cleaning tolerable , where long before Ancestory.com
I was given a sneak peak into the history of my mom's life. Small snippets, fuzzy pictures of
the things that made her who she was, the past that made her my present.
Sometimes I was awash in tears as I heard about my grandfather telling my mom that he was taking her mother to the hospital and maybe they would be home with a brother or sister, only to have her mother come home without a sibling and without a uterus.
Others, I was full of fear and disgust for my grandmother who cared more about her house being clean & quiet for her husband, than the hopes and dreams of her daughter. My mom lived a very quiet life in that house. She was hit, she was yelled at, she was diminished all in the name of love, she sought to be someone else. Better.
But there were also many times she would let us take a break and we would sit on our couch , with the windows open and the sounds and smells of Spring filling our living room and she would make me laugh with stories of her aunts and uncles, Russian Christmases, the tiny tics and quirks that make a family. I would have her tell those kinds of stories over and over again. Watching her smile fade in and out as she rememeberd.
Her big blue eyes widen and her laughter booming over me. I was lost in that world of some people I would only know from her memories and others I would see at the next family get together.
This is how we communicate, my mother and I. We scrub and scour sinks and each other's psyches. We cannot sit quietly and rehash, we must have a table to wash, a load of laundry to hang on a line, or a bucket full of water between us to make the conversation meaningful.
My tribe of females doesn't bond over baking dishes, kitchen aid mixers, or cupcake pans, we find our solace in soft rags covered in Pledge and under the comforters we place and straighten on our beds. Pulling and pushing them into place, fluffing a pillow, sliding a hand back over to remove the invisible wrinkles.