As I made my bed this morning, I began thinking of my mother. She had “chores” that she did daily, most with a specific purpose. For instance, making one’s bed was done each morning, fluffing the pillows and straightening the sheets just so because, as she said, “it feels so good to get into a neat bed at night”. All laundry was placed into the laundry hampers, each with it’s special collection; towels in the bathroom hamper, sheets in the upstairs hamper, and clothes in the proper basket.
I continue so many of these “chores”, just as my mother did. Not because she did it that way, but merely as a matter of rote! Proving, I suppose, that one does live as one learns. In the same way that dirty dishes do NOT stay in the sink, but are either placed in the dishwasher, or hand washed. The house is dust free, carpets vacuumed, and floors swept. Something is always freshly baked and “emergency quick meals” either in the freezer or canning cellar. I must admit, that many of these are not always visible in my home.
If you asked her the purpose for all these “chores”, her answer for each one was the same; “well, I’m ready for unexpected company”. That response came from a time when out of town family visited often. Whether it was a summer vacation or weekend visit, mom was always prepared.
Mom also had a “weekday” chore list as well. Monday was laundry day; Tuesday she would iron and bake. Wednesday was a “what ever day” where in she would catch up on or do whatever she felt needed to be done! Thursday was bread baking day and cleaning the upstairs. All beds were stripped, clean linen was replaced, and all furniture dusted to a shine! On Fridays, the downstairs or main floor, received her loving touches. Furniture was dusted and polished, couch and chair cushions removed and vacuumed, and the wood was cleaned. I so loved the smell of Murphy’s Oil Soap. Even today, that smell reminds me of my mom and a clean house!
Saturday, now that was a day. The first “stop” for my mom was a trip to the hairdresser. She did this every Saturday for as long as I have memory. Her standing appointment was always 8 am sharp! While she was gone, I would start the morning with a quick once over of furniture just to make sure no dust was there. The non-carpeted floors were scrubbed, on hands and knees, and the bathrooms were made to sparkle. I always, from early on, have hated to clean the bathroom. Mom made a “deal with me”. I scrubbed the floors and she would clean the bathrooms. Errands outside the home were accomplished once mom was finished with her hair appointment, to ensure that the refrigerator was stocked and everything was as fit for company as possible. When she returned home, my work was inspected. Many times then, we would go shopping together, or we would sit for the rest of the day “crafting”! I learned to sew, crochet and knit, do bead work, plastic canvas, and of course, mom and I had our own ceramic business.
Sunday, was always devoted to church and family. As a very young child, through my teenage years, we would go to early mass, come home to such a wonderful smell, as the days noon meal was already cooking on the stove. Maybe a pot of chicken soup, stuffed cabbage, or chicken and cabbage, whatever the meal, the house smelled wonderful. After the noon meal, it was a drive to visit my grandfather and then dad would always stop at one of the family’s homes on our way home. Many times, the day ended with a visit to the “Slovenian Hall” for a polka dance. Once my grandfather passed away, our Sundays were always family visits; whether in our home with my sister and her family, or visits to one of the many aunts or uncles! I literally grew up with my cousins as best friends.
As these memories flood my mind, tears flow down my cheeks. It’s not that I am sad to remember, but sad instead, that those days with my parents can now be only memories. All the aunts and uncles are now gone; cousins all scattered and we stay in touch now through social media or telephone. We no longer have Sunday visits. Wedding showers and weddings, christenings, and birthdays, no longer are shared by the entire family. It seems that for the most part, we gather now at funerals.
I pray, that my sons, and my grand children will one day, have a cache of memories of me and my “chores” and laugh as they remember the times we spent together.