In Search of Blessings

Mom and DadI cleaned my parent’s bathroom last week. I moved aside lipstick plagued toothbrushes planted against  my mom’s hairbrush and my dad’s razors circa 1995. I fought the caked on Colgate that sat defiant, resolved to call the rim of the sink home. I pulled ribbons of mom’s hair from her plastic, black comb and watched them float into the garbage can. The film and dust-covered countertop balked at me still. I’ll be frank–I have avoided this room. This task for years. However, there is something about cleaning, the sense of accomplishment I get from finishing the job.  I find the scrubbing, the organizing, all naturally therapeutic. Mindless work can serve as a coping mechanism…This, however, is different. Give me a six-month old piece of pumpkin pie and I can find the humor in the mold and my father’s inability to recognize when food is almost deadly. The food disposal and I have become compatriots at this point in the game. Put me in charge of deciphering cryptic “use by” dates, and I will have at it! Allow me to toss the hundreds of We-Want-Your-Money-Mr. and Mrs.-Retired-Fixed-Income-Folks from NPR, The Sierra Club, Save-the-Whatever… And I will quickly make you, dear father forget that you have CharityWatch highlighted, marked, and flagged for prospective donations. So when I absent mindedly decide that tackling the room at the top of the staircase is a good idea.. I know better. We have lived in the same house since I was three. My mom scratched my back on her bed when I was a kid. She to sang me, “Oh Sweet Chariot” to coax me to bed. Chrissake, I had to lay sideways as she maneuvered Preparation H in place to deal with my three-year-old hemorrhoids. Yes, too much information, but it paints a picture, doesn’t it? My mother’s thunderous and notorious snoring could be heard across the hall, down the way. She’d fall asleep in hot second. When I’d lament that I couldn’t sleep because I had a head full of worries, she’d remark, “I guess I am blessed. I just don’t worry. What’s the point?” Now, the room has become a museum of sorts. The dresser greets me with old jewelry  in disarray, on top of mismatched socks, and crumpled pieces of paper. A bedazzled leather belt with “Rose” etched along the back adorns the rocking chair. A purchase we made, God twenty odd years ago along Damen Avenue in Chicago. Blankets of dust here are too much to bear. I can’t bring myself to disturb my mother’s things. To begin to piece together her belongings in an orderly, sensible matter. Which is ironic, because what is sensible about a disease that robs one of their mind? That creates such an intense level of dependence, it is at times, just too much to bear?! Eyes averting the artifacts that scream “Mom!” “Rosie!” “Warrior!” “Lover of Self!” “To Thy Own Self be True!” I set about to clean the bathroom. Trying to take a cue from my mom, not to worry.

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