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Back in the closet

My mother, God rest her, was engaged in mortal combat with clutter for most of her life, and in spite of raising seven children, one special needs, several others chronically ill, she did remarkably well. The house might not have always been white glove clean, but it was presentable. After Dad died however, and she moved into her own apartment, she found she could still keep things tidy if she put stuff in her closets.

A lot of stuff.

During one visit, I decided to take matters into my own hands when I noticed that not only could I not put one more thing in her utility closet, but I could not even find enough free floor space to enter it. The Mister and I went to work, chucking stuff, organizing stuff, relocating stuff, and chucking stuff. I washed the floor and The Mister made a diagram to hang on the door informing any interested parties where everything was located. And areas that had nothing in them were designated “Space – the final frontier.” We chuckled over that. Mum rolled her eyes.

Some years later, Mum broke her hip after she tripped…in her closet. Bedroom closet this time. The Mister and I went up to take care of her and when I got my first look at her closet I may have uttered an exclamation of surprise and despair that was, shall we say, inappropriate for a good Christian girl. The Mister came running to my aid, glanced in the door, and uttered the same expression.

“There should be a sign over the door,” I told him, “‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here.'”

“Want some help with it?”

“Mm, no. No room for both of us, so one man job, or woman. Tell you what though, make me something nice for supper.”

“You got it.”

A few years after that, we were cleaning out Mum’s closet to move her into a retirement home, and a few weeks after that we were cleaning out her closet at the retirement home to move her into the nursing home.

I could write a book – “Closets I have known.”

Then last week, a friend of ours who’s suffered several strokes in the past, developed an infection and needed to be admitted to hospital. When the infection cleared, the hospital wanted to send him home but we finally managed to convince them that he was no longer capable of living alone and needed twenty-four hour nursing care. An emergency bed at a nursing home became available at a facility about 20 miles away and he moved in on Thursday to stay until a bed becomes available in the Burg. Which means his apartment has to be cleared out so it can be rented out to a new tenant. Since he has no family, The Mister, our parish nurse, and I stepped up, the two of them calling dibs on the living room and kitchen, which left me the bedroom, starting with…

…the bedroom closet.

Again I caught my breath. Where do I even begin? Well, begin anywhere I guess. So I started my well-learned routine of chucking, organizing, relocating, and chucking. In the midst of this flurry of activity I muttered a prayer that went something like – “Divine, if it’s not asking too much, could you maybe explain why, oh why, do I always end up in someone’s cluttered dusty old closet? And me with my allergies! Amen.”

And a Voice replied, “Two reasons, actually.”

“Whoa! You were listening!”


“Good. So tell me, why I am cleaning another closet?”

“Well, for one thing, with all your past experience, you’re getting really good at this.”

“Oh please.”

“No, seriously. You are completely unsentimental when it comes to chucking out other people’s junk. Give you a box of garbage bags and a pair of latex gloves, and damn girl! you’re just a cleaning machine! You put your head down and don’t look up again until the job’s done.”

“Well,” I said, polishing a tiny circle on the closet shelf with my index finger, “I suppose we all have our special gifts.”

“Totally. And confess, you like the godlike sense of power that comes with imposing order on chaos.”

I smiled a little smile.

“That is a nice perk,” I admitted.

“Don’t have to tell me.”

“So what’s the second reason?”

“This will be the last nice thing you’ll ever do for your friend.”

That took me aback.

“It is?”

“Yup. All of his needs, comfort, safety, meals, meds, everything is being looked after by someone else, and will be from now on. Except for one thing.”

“His closet.”

“Correct. But it just so happened I knew an expert in the field who would be perfect for that job.”

I looked up tentatively.

“Me, right?”


I took a minute to think about everything, then said, “I’ll do a good job for him.”

The Voice replied, “Of course you will. I have great faith in you.”

I laughed.

“Shouldn’t that be the other way around?”

“It works both ways.”

And I felt something touch my cheek. Might have been a spider.

But I prefer to think it was a kiss.

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  1. Heather Ferdinand
    Posted March 29, 2015 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    Great blog as usual. I love how you think.

    • Penny-Anne
      Posted March 30, 2015 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, my dear. Always appreciated.

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