Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Mundane - Scrubbing the Floor

My days are consumed with:
unpacking,
organizing,
reorganizing,
moving things from one place to another, 
 trying to find out where an item fits best.

Adding to the stress of moving things around,
unpacking,
rearranging, 
I've thrown in the Christmas boxes
that now 
sit
lined up in dining room
where the other boxes 
all used to
sit.

The Christmas tree is up.
It is naked, except for the lights.
It is a pre-lit tree.

Every piece of furniture needs to be
dusted.
The carpets need to be
vacuumed.
The wood floors need to be 
swept
and
mopped.

It is the laundry room that is catching my attention today.
The laundry room is
the entryway from the garage,
the place where the dog is 
fed, 
and where he messily
laps up
 bowls of water.
The laundry room is
the place where the dog is 
kenneled
when we are not at home.
The laundry room is Boston's room.
The floor is
covered 
with dog hair.
It is
muddy and dusty.
No matter how much I feel 
compelled 
to unpack 
boxes
or 
to decorate
the Christmas tree,
I am more 
compelled 
to scrub 
the laundry room floor.

And so, I 
sweep up
the dog hair that covers the floor.
I then find some floor cleaner, and a rag.
I get on my hands and knees and begin to scrub the dirty floor.

Then, I
remember 
 Julie.

Julie was not yet two years old
 in the memory I have of her as I 
scrub
the floor on my hands and knees.
On that day, now 36 years ago
I was also 
scrubbing
the floor on my hands and knees
Christmas had just come and gone, and
the other children were back in school.
I was very, very
 pregnant
 with my last child, my fifth. 
Jonathan was born on the last day of January that year.
As a mother of four children under the age of ten,
pregnant,
with another soon to be born,
I was
very tired,
but the huge kitchen floor was very dirty.
On my hands and knees, I
scrubbed,
and worked 
my way around the room, 
getting every corner sparkling clean in preparation for the birth that was imminent.

Finally, 
the task of cleaning accomplished,
I headed downstairs to do a load of laundry while the floor dried.

Julie,
while I was downstairs,
went into the newly scrubbed kitchen.
I remember thinking she was way too quiet upstairs.
That was never a good sign.
When I came up the stairs,
my arms full of clean, neatly folded towels and sheets,
I heard pots and pans banging together.
I went to other side of the kitchen island to investigate.
There was
Julie.
She had been very busy.
She had taken all the canned goods out of the lazy Susan and put them on the newly cleaned floor.
She had then taken out all of the pots and pans and placed them by the canned goods.
She had then taken eggs and broken them over the cans of food, and the pots and pans.
My floor was a mess.
Julie was happily playing house.
I wanted to cry.

Today, I 
cried,
as I 
remembered 
that long ago day when I had gotten down on my hands and knees
 to scrub
the kitchen floor.
It was a mundane chore then.
It is still a mundane chore.
It is also a chore filled with treasured memories 
of a tiny,
curly haired,
little imp,
my little pixie,
always so busy,
always so inquisitive,
always so creative,
whom had made a mess on newly cleaned floor so many years ago.

I may have been exhausted,
I may have been overwhelmed,
but those feelings are forgotten.

I remember 
Julie
 while I
scrub
the floor.

Today, the mundane task of 
scrubbing
the floor brought back golden memories. 

I miss you Julie.
I love you.
Love,
Mom
XO 


34 comments:

Olga said...

Memories color our holidays. New layers each year, but old ones never forgotten.

Linda Reeder said...

I am at a loss to know what to comment. Just know that I loved reading this post.

Linda Myers said...

Lovely and funny and sad, Sally.

Betsy Adams said...

I know that you were an English teacher, my friend, but you truly have a gift for using words.. This poem is awesome---and I can 'feel' your emotion throughout it... SO much Love---SO much talent... God Bless You, Sally.
Hugs,
Betsy

Vagabonde said...

It is a lovely post. As long as we have our memories, our loved ones are near us. I worry about getting old and losing my memory. I think writing reminiscences on a blog is helpful and keep us close to those we cherished.

rosaria williams said...


And every box you unpack will trigger another memory, pinpricks to remind us of the unbearable loss we must bear forevermore. If we didn't have these thoughts our hearts must have stopped too.

Hugs from windy and wet Oregon.

Jackie said...

Like Linda, I'm at a loss to know what to comment.
Tears welled in my eyes as I read this.
From one Mother to another, please know that I care.
Love,
Jackie

Grandmother said...

They come at the most unexpected times these memories of lost loved ones. It's a sweet, funny memory but also heartbreaking. Isn't it amazing what we can do that we never thought we could. Isn't it awful that we have to. Peace, Sally.

troutbirder said...

Indeed.... The hardest part for me years later is to think how different our lives might have been had our son survived....

DJan said...

I can see you now, and back then, with Julie. What a very touching post, Sally. Thank you for writing it and sharing it with me. Sending you hugs and wiping my own tears away.

Lynilu said...

I'm sometimes surprised at what it is that sparks memories, but like your story says, there are certain ones that are as predictable as the sunrise. How fortunate we are to have those memory-sparks to keep those we love nears us.

Ashling said...

What an incredible illustration of how it's the 'mundane' daily things that frame our lives, moreso perhaps than the firework events. Thank you for sharing this.

MerCyn said...

Beautiful poem. Wonderful memories.

thisisme said...

Hi Sally. Such a beautiful post, even though it was sad, with your memories of your beautiful little girl, Julie, when she was tiny all those years ago. That's why our loved ones are always with us in our minds and in our hearts -memories just like that, that will never die. Please don't go overdoing things my friend, even though there is so much to do. Just remember what happened at the beginning of this year. We don't want anything like that happening again. Sending hugs and blessings your way.

thisisme said...

Hi Sally. I've just written a comment to you, but then I don't know if it went through, so if you do get two comments from me, don't worry, I'm not going mad!!
This was a beautiful post, although sad with your memories of your beautiful Julie when she was a little girl all those years ago. That's why our loved ones never really die. They always live on in us in our minds and in our hearts, with memories just like this one.
Please don't go overdoing things my friend. I know that there's a lot to be done, but please just take it as easy as you can! Sending hugs and blessings your way.

#1Nana said...

Okay...you got me blubbering! This is a powerful piece. I especially like that it shows how far you've come in this past year, that you can now embrace the memories. They aren't just another reminder of what you have lost, but of the gifts you have been given.

On another note...you wash floors on your hands and knees??? I don't need my floors that clean! I'm satisfied to clean up the big chunks!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Sally, I am struck by the fact that scrubbing a floor in your new home has triggered this lovely-and-sad memory. The image of your curly-haired child breaking eggs over the pots and pans and cans makes me grin. The pain of your loss gives me a pang. I wish you strength as you proceed to settle into your home and create new holiday memories.

Anna said...

It was a beautiful tribute to a memory of when your children were at your feet.

Be good to yourself all the ways you can. Maybe it is time to use the mop?

Chatty Crone said...

You write a beautiful story here - I just wish it wasn't true for you. I am so sorry that your dear daughter died. That is not right. Hugs.
sandie

Kay said...

Oh gosh, Sally... This beautiful memory has tears running down my face. I can just picture your little Julie on your clean floor. It's good to remember a time when you could laugh with her, be exasperated with her and just love her.

LC said...

Good memories are a blessing. I know they do not relieve the pain. But I am glad they can coexist. My thoughts and prayers continue for you and yours during this season of the year and this season of your life.

Barb said...

Your memory brought tears to my eyes, Sally. I can see little Julie. You were exhausted back then, and I think with all the work and organizing you've been doing, you're exhausted now. Nothing is ever really finished. I used to be frustrated when I was younger that nothing stayed cleaned up but now I feel relaxed and just hope there is another day to accomplish what I can. I hope you and Jim are both well.

Sandi said...

Sending you big, long, healing hugs this morning, Sally. Reading your story brought a flood of sympathy tears. I know exactly those mundane moments that bring back the memory of our lost child when least expected. I'm living them constantly lately, as I know you are too.
Love to you, dear friend of my heart.

Dee said...

Dear Sally, this poignant posting brought tears to my eyes. Julie was a great blessing in your life. And she continues, I think, to bless you as you work through a life without her bodily presence. But I do strongly believe that she is ever present to you in spirit and in Oneness. Peace.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

What a beautiful and introspective post!! I love your blog :)

Mage said...

You are wonderful.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

The last part makes me sad, but I am happy that you are getting settled into your new house.

Our laundry room is also our dog's room ... it is never very clean, even if the rest of the house is.

Merry Christmas, Karen.

Kathy M.

Jeanie said...

Those simple tasks really bring back those grief bursts, don't they? Just when you least expect it. But in some ways I truly believe they are healing. They are our way of connecting with someone we love and miss. And in shedding the tears, there is a letting go of grief and letting in the healing.

Life is filled with the mundane. And life is filled with grief and healing, bit by bit. May you be one step closer in your journey, my friend.

Maggie May said...

It is a beautiful poem and it is surprising the way mundane actions and chores...... sometimes music or smells seem to make us remember things. Sometimes sad and sometimes happy but more often I think these memories are tinged with sadness.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

It is the time of the year that brings those memories of lost loved ones right up front. Hugs to you as you try to get on with your new phase in life, your new place.

Terri Tiffany said...

I pray your Christmas in your new home is a blessing and the start of many new memories.

Joanne said...

It's odd how the most innocent things will bring back a flood of memories. I think your story is so sweet and almost every mother can relate to that situation of cleaning a room and finding it a mess just seconds later. Today my friend you have reminded me to remember the sweetness of life. The holidays often tend to bring with it the added heart ache of missing those that are no longer with us. I pray you have more smiles than tears in the coming days.

Blessings always, Joanne

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

I hope you-all have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Lisa said...

Wonderfully written and very touching.