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Friday, April 12, 2013

Spring Cleaning and Snack Breaks

For the last few weeks I have been in spring cleaning mode.  I have opened drawers I never open any other time to try to rid them of clutter. I go through my closets in an attempt to get rid of clothes I no longer wear and clothes my ample assets can no longer be stuffed into without my body taking on the appearance of a stuffed sausage roll.

This is a much more difficult task than you might think. I have a sweatshirt with an ironed on photo of my Goddaughter when she was two years old. That was the year her mother gave me the shirt. She is seventeen years-old now and the shirt is stained, faded, and has a couple of small holes but I cannot possibly part with it.

I am the owner of one of the ugliest sweaters I have ever seen in my life and I would not be caught dead wearing it but it has a designer label and I know the friend who gifted me with this paid a good deal of money for it. The sweater reminds me of her zest for living with its vibrant colors and strange patterns. I have to keep this sweater. There is really no other choice.

I own another sweater that I wear every year on January 19th. That is the date my father passed away. I had given him the sweater on his last Christmas. It is very large on me and I have to push the sleeves up to keep them from swallowing my hands but I could never part with this sweater. It’s been washing at least twenty-three times but I still think I smell Old Spice whenever I put it on and it comforts me.

I gave up storing the winter clothes in the summer and vice versa many years ago. I leave my winter sweaters hanging right beside of my summer blouses. I finally figured out there was no real reason for moving all of the clothes around every season except to make more room in the closet. Extra room in the closets means I could store more boxes of memories and to be honest, memories don’t do you much good unless you can enjoy them.

Getting much of anything done here is a real chore and spring cleaning is no exception.  I do the cleaning at the same time I am taking care of my elderly mother. She doesn’t remember what year she was born and she will tell you she just talked to family members who have been deceased for the last twenty-five plus years. She is sure I haven’t fed her since 2001 when, according to her, I gave her biscuits and gravy that had cheese in it.

She wants a peanut butter sandwich every half hour and the other day she was in the middle of eating her dinner when she announced, “I’m hungry. Go fix me a peanut butter sandwich.”

I mentioned the owners of a local garage today and she said, “Are they the ones that had that restaurant?”

“Yes, Mother. They still have the restaurant.”

“They had the best steak hoagies. I think I want one of them.” She said.

Yesterday she said, “I want to go home.”

I replied, “Mother, you are at home.”

“No, I want to go to where I’m from.” She said this with a very serious look on her face and I had tears pooling at the corners of my eyes. Then she added, “That woman that was from there cooked pinto beans and cornbread and I want some of that.”

No matter what I cook or how often I give her a snack my mother always asks, “Do you have any pies? Cake? Cookies? What about Candy?” I guess food is about the only thing she remembers now and the only thing she really enjoys.

Every now and again then though, she surprises me. Yesterday I was lying on the couch trying to find something on television that might entertain her. The young lady living here passed through the living room with her infant and my mother looked up and said, “You were born in the middle of the night and all the nurses wanted to keep you.”

Tears again welled up in my eyes and I said, “Really mother? You remember that.”

“Of course I do.” She answered after a pause. “I was hungry and they held you while I sat up to eat my breakfast! I would have let them keep you if they would have given me some more coffee.”

Maybe someday instead of cleaning out the dust and the closets I’ll sort through my memories and my kinds will smile. I just hope I don’t ask for so much chocolate that I overdose myself with it! I guess food is the last vice any of us have if we survive into old age and our jobs are gone, our children have left the nest, our friends are as old as we are, and material objects just don’t bring us any joy anymore.

Shoot, I guess I should go ahead and clean out that stash of leftover Halloween candy right now while I’m thinking about it……

© Dianna Doles Petry

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