My maternal grandparents had twenty-one children, which was always difficult for me to admit to anyone because usually when I told people this fact they’d guffaw or make a sarcastic remark or raise their eyebrows as if in disbelief.
“Twenty-one? You gotta’ be frigging kidding me?”
More often than not I changed the subject and omitted the other detail that my grandparents lived on a farm in a secluded area of northeastern Canada, logged their land, planted potatoes and blueberries, built everything by hand and rarely got sick due to my grandmother’s strict adherence to the saying, “cleanliness is Godliness.” I only visited my maternal grandparents’ home once and was completely blown away by the polished floors, the gigantic hand-hewn wooden table and benches gleaming in the morning light, and the sparkling glass so spotless I wondered if it was truly glass.
My mother inherited this trait of keeping a hygienic and dirt-free home and maintained that every weekend should be spent in the pursuit of “neat and tidy.” And even though there was disorder in other areas of our lives, our physical home was by most standards immaculate.
I too am like this. My husband and kids have teased me, sometimes relentlessly over the years, for my need for clean. As I age I’m trying to not care so much if things are out of place, left to gather dust or not quite right.
However, when I take the time to vacuum the inside of my car layered with a six-month coating of dust, hose down the car mats, wash the windows and wipe the steering wheel, a certain calm seeps in as I hum or even sing a popular tune out loud.
I’m not sure if it’s the satisfaction of working hard or that things look better or the connection to grandparents and parents who have died many years ago now or maybe it’s just that when I clean house, I just clean house. I’m completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my thoughts. Not planning what I need to do next. Not sucked away reliving the past. Just very present. I wonder if my grandmother did this too or if it was just a way to keep twenty-one children busy and occupied.
How did you find solace this week?
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