Last Thursday I made out a To Do List with ten items. The first five were what I intended to eat at the State Fair (Corny Dog, Jack's French Fries, Greek Salad, Baklava and Belgian Waffle) the next four were things I intended to do at the Fair (which I only made a shallow attempt to accomplish, having by this age given up the façade that I intended to do anything besides eat myself silly) and the last item on the list was to schedule breast surgery. I got that one: Wednesday morning.
So, dear readers, you are reading something I wrote ahead of time knowing I wouldn’t be in a very good mood Wednesday.
I spent the weekend “nesting.” I’m one of those people who clean house before I go on a vacation, the theory being I didn’t want to get killed in a plane crash and have people come into my house and see the way we really live. I figured I won’t be feeling like cleaning for a week or two and I’m planning a party for the week after my surgery. Beaven will be going on a mission trip and I always plan a party for when he goes out of town. I had the whole party set up before the surgery was scheduled but I’m not about to let a little thing like breast cancer get in the way of a good party. So my goal is to get the house Party Worthy before I step through the Day Surgery door.
Our pastor’s wife once had a horrible asthma attack, so bad she ended up in ICU. There had been a horrible dust storm in Oklahoma and the dust was blowing as far south as Texas. The hospital told Ron they were having such a rash of asthma attacks from the dust that Wanda got the last ventilator in the hospital. When I called him to ask what I could do to help his request was for me to assemble an army of women to check his house for allergens aka “dust.” Yes, dear hearts, we had permission, indeed, a request—to examine the preacher’s house for dust. Well, you might as well title this story, “The Church Ladies Go to Heaven.”
We loaded up dust rags, vacuum cleaners, mops and bifocals and headed out determined to find every speck of dust in that house, all the while knowing we wouldn’t find anything because we knew Wanda was a better housekeeper than any of us. And we didn’t even need to use the “drop and glance” method where you reach down to the floor like you’re picking up your purse then glance up close and sideways at the coffee table top to see if it’s dusty. No—we had permission to look for dust. The sole moment of excitement was when Dana yelled out “Oh My God!” and we all ran into the kitchen expecting to find a dried up dead mouse or maybe mold. We found her atop a kitchen chair with a rag: “Even the top of her refrigerator is clean!”
Then there is the story of when I was in high school and our neighbor’s husband died quite unexpectedly of a heart attack. My step-mother helped clean the house for his grieving family and she came home absolutely radiant with glee because the woman’s closets were a disaster. I heard a lot about their closets- that it looked like Liz had made a habit of stuffing everything in there to get it out of sight. The fact that made this discovery especially delicious was that the lady tended to be a bit haughty and was, in fact, the president of the PTA.
This story has stayed with me almost fifty years now and I don’t intend to give anyone fodder for a story like that with me as the main character. Emily came for the weekend to help me and we got a lot accomplished. Not only did we clean but we collaborated on a few changes in décor and she agreed with everything I said, or at least pretended to agree. This whole cancer thing is really working to my advantage, so far. I won’t tell you everything we did because if you come to my party I want you to think this is what my house always looks like. But I can say that power tools and fire were involved, although not in the same project.