The Cleaner Is Coming

October 22, 2009 - Andrew with his sister - First Candle/SIDS Alliance Charity Gala - Tribeca Rooftop

The cleaner is here. I can hear her outside my room, I wonder how much longer I have before she needs to come into my room.
Last week she couldn’t come. It was a rare occasion, for she is the most reliable cleaner I’ve ever had, but strange though it may sound, it was nice not having her.
Strange isn’t it? On the one hand I am… my children would say… obsessed with everything being clean and tidy, while on the other, I don’t like the disruption to my writing routine.
But as far as my children are concerned, the issue with the cleaner is a different one. Andrew was the most vociferous about it. You see, every Tuesday, when he and his sister were home, I would remind them, they would say nag them, to tidy up their room because the cleaner was coming.
“Mummy it doesn’t make sense,” Andrew would argue, somewhere between amused and frustrated.
“What doesn’t make sense, darling?”
“Having to tidy up for the cleaner.”
“It’s not tidying up for the cleaner,” I would explain in vain. “It’s tidying up so that she can actually clean.”
Over the years, whenever I reminded them that, the cleaner is coming tomorrow, they would go:
“Oh no, not the cleaner,” and roll their eyes.

Before transferring to NYU, when Andrew was at Drexel in Philly, my son complained about how untidy his room-mate was.
“I don’t know how you can complain Andrew,” I said. “You are not exactly tidy yourself.”
I don’t how he did it, but looking at his clothes after he’d taken them off, it looked as if he’d walked out of them. The underwear would be inside the seat of his pants and his socks inside the legs.
Can someone tell me how one does that?
Anyway, he insisted that his room-mate was untidy and that he was sick of it.
“He leaves his dirty dishes in the sink.”
“Well, I’ve never seen you jump to do the washing up,” I countered, amused by the conversation.
“You don’t understand. He just leaves the dirty dishes with the left overs, until the whole place stinks and then I or one of the other suite mates ends up having to do it.”
“Have you talked to him about it?”
“He just doesn’t care. And he leaves his things everywhere, I have to step over his clothes to get to my bed.”
Uugghh, that’s awful, I thought.

Oh my sweet Tigger, if you came back, I would put up with your mess, for a while anyway. No really, I wouldn’t pester you. These days nothing is ever out of place in your room, and I wish it was a bloody mess instead.
Well, time to vacate my room, the cleaner is at the door.

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12 thoughts on “The Cleaner Is Coming

  1. I guess a son’s room hits one in the stomach no matter what: irritated tension when he’s home, because the room is messy; nausea when he’s gone, because it is unnaturally neat.

    Cleaning is conflict ridden. When I was in my teens, we had a live-in maid, and Mother would threaten: “If you don’t pick up your room so Sylvia can clean, you’ll have to clean it yourself.”

    As a result, I’ve always seen having to clean my own place as a dreadful punishment.

    • I find cleaning quite therapeutic. The only thing is that it takes me a long time because EVERYTHING has to be cleaned thoroughly. Furniture moved, the pile of books by my bed and bedside table have to be dusted one by one… you get the picture. Do you know, now that I am writing this, I realize that my children may have a point about my being obsessed. So, I leave it to someone else most of the time.

  2. My heart ACHES for your daughter when I see this picture of her with her brother. I spent my day with my daughter today. She’s also an only girl in a family of boys. She too was very close to her brother.

    • That picture was taken 10 days before he died. They were very close and she was the last one in the family to see him.
      How is your daughter?

  3. She lives, loves, and laughs with zest to honor the beauty and wonder that is life and to honor her brother whom she loves. Her spiritual moorings anchor her to the hope of seeing him at some future time…until then…

    She also fortunately has supportive siblings, extended family, and friends. And this is not the first time she’s encountered death by suicide. A young male coed who attended the same university she attended died by suicide earlier in the same year.

    • Thank you for asking about my daughter…How is your daughter? Having many children with unique personalities and dispositions, I can see how grief affects them differently; how they cope differently.

      Honestly, I am glad I am me. I can’t imagine being my children’s ages and knowing I will be going through all of life’s milestones without my brother. For me, in all likelihood, I will be seeing my son much sooner than they will and that in some way helps me to keep putting one foot in front of the other each day.

      • She is having a hard time. As strong and as wonderful as she is, my tower of strength I’ve always called her, this blow has been too much. Still, she is coping doing the best she can. She is only 22 and already has a master, her master is in International NGO administration and in September she will do an internship at FAO headquarters in Rome. She is passionate about food security and now the huge crises involving the Indian Farmers suicide.
        As for me, I was saying to my husband yesterday:
        “we have friends in both places,” referring to Heaven and Earth.

  4. Oh that our daughters (as well as our sons) can remain strong, find much to live for, do good, and know much joy in this sorrow-laden sphere of existance in which we live.

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