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Spring Cleaning

My Mum was a cleaner. Not professionally, although she had worked at “the big house” when she was in service as a young girl in Liverpool. No, I mean that my Mum loved cleaning and was very houseproud. Dust didn’t dare settle on the furniture and the carpets were vacuumed within an inch of their lives. This must have rubbed off on me because I like to clean too, especially when I’m stressed.

So it stands to reason that Spring cleaning is what I do when the days lengthen, and the Spring sun shines on the winter windows, the marks on the woodwork show up and the kitchen cupboards need a good sort out. It sounds simple and a positive thing to do, doesn’t it? But what about the boxes at the back of the wardrobes, the vacuum bags under the beds and the items stuffed at the bottom of drawers? What do I do about all that stuff?

Every time I do a deep clean of my house, I end up taking bags of clothes to the charity shops, occasionally selling some and dumping the worthless stuff at the local tip. I am trying to declutter as much as I can so that when I am no longer here, there will be less for others to sort out. I’m trying. How many casserole dishes does one person need, especially when that person doesn’t cook! I’ve paired down books, bedding, garden tools, nick knacks, dinner sets, tealight holders and pictures from the walls, but it’s the other stuff that floors me every time. How can I throw away family photos, the faded faces of my parents and grandparents, my boys as babies, toddlers, teenagers and young men, David and I on our wedding day, at our cottage in France, at the beach or skiing in the Alps? How do I put the tiny blue shoes Mark wore when he learned to walk, or the certificates Matt got for gymnastics, their swimming badges, ski gloves, degree certificates in a non-descript plastic bag and throw them away? And the pile of cards? Oh, the cards, with the spidery handwriting declaring that I was the best mummy in the world and smothered with kisses. Every item is weighted with emotion and evokes memories of when they were here, were alive, were noisy, messy and impossible, but here.

Every family will have these boxes, albums, files that record their life together and normally they will be left for surviving children and family members to pick over, cry over and claim, but when you are a parent with no surviving children, no actual family and no spouse, there is a real dilemma. The precious family friend, who will be tasked with sorting my estate after my demise, will have no attachment to my stuff and I don’t doubt that most of it will find itself in the recycling bin. That makes me incredibly sad, but I know I can’t take it with me.

So, this Spring when I deep clean room by room, I will look again at this precious stuff, stuff that proves my boys were real and probably cry. Then I’ll take a deep breath, dry my tears, replace the lids and put it all back in its tidy and dust free place until another Spring.

By Viv Wild

Comments: 2 (Add)

fran on 3 February 2023 at 10:27

This was beautifully bittersweet. Thank you xx

Jenny Mackay on 2 February 2023 at 18:58

Beautifully written and so very sad Viv. Sending love ❤️

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