Monday, April 20, 2009


My mother is letting go. She admits that she was never that into housekeeping. She did it for Dad. He searched for some sort of order in his universe and the house was where he could impose it. So now that he’s buried, one layer of the dust comes from that.

And another layer is because her eyes are not seeing quite as well as they used to and her body has stiffened some from age and her lifestyle. She’s carried on her mother’s tradition of loving game shows. And now there’s a 24-7 game show network.

Still ,the dust disturbs me when I visit. It settles deepest in the places she doesn’t disturb with her daily movements.

I remember how as a child one of my favorite chores at my Grandma’s house was to dust every shelf and surface with a rag and aerosol can of Endust in hand. I felt important. The rag was just an excuse for caressing each knick knack she had collected, each one with some arcane or sentimental meaning. I felt proud of the figurine of a woman taking off her apron, her hair and clothes ruffled by the wind, which a younger me had bought her at a yard sale with my own money. I always thought of her taking off the apron—maybe she was putting it on.

Mom has outlived Grandma now by 10 years. Mom’s grandchildren are grown up or seldom seen. Great grandchildren rarely visit and don’t stay to do chores.

What bothers me most about that dust are those words that come to mind, “Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.”

--by Terra Rafael

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