I walk into the house in 1964. I’m 10. The first thing I see is a pair of bare legs on the inside of a closed window and the rest of the body isn’t in the apartment. I’m praying to God whoever it is doesn’t fall, the soapy glass prevents a clean identification of the person sitting on the outside sill, but I kind of figure it’s my mother by the unmistakable fluffy slippers dangling from her toes. Now I’m flipping out because I’m scared of heights. She’s four stories up, 50 feet smack over the concrete backyard. My heart’s outside my chest doing a Mexican Bean dance on my T-Shirt. Finally an arm starts swirling away the soapy water and I see Mom’s face through the glass and she smiles at me. I love that smile, and for a brief moment I was not frightened for her I was just amazed at how hard she worked to keep our small apartment clean.
When I was boy right through my teens, if I was away a day or longer from the house she’d surprise me and cleaned my room like something out of a movie. It looked so good I thought I was in Beaver Cleaver’s bedroom. This blew my mind, I’d run through the apartment and grab my mother and kiss her over and over saying, "thank you, Uncle Mommy, thank you." All Mom said while being tackled, “Watch my head, I don’t like people touching my head.”
Last week, I washed eight windows. When I got to my daughter’s room I felt Mom’s spirit sweep through me, she made several passes. As I cleaned my daughter’s space (dusted the old knick-knacks, too) Mom stayed with me for two hours. I felt the love she experienced doing this for me countless times many years ago.
Growing up in Yorkville, my family and all my friends lived in small spaces, most with two or more kids. A tenement mother had a difficult job. Keeping a home when the challenges to clean were relentless. I think most city moms had a brittle grip on their sanity. But their love was so sturdy it never gave up.
While I was I polishing Mom's Aries knick-knack figurine, behind me I felt that same smile I saw through the soapy window when I was 10. Thank you, Mom.
|Mom with the Smile I love|
|An injured mouse receives visitors at his hospital bed|
|Work to do|
|Daughter''s room cleaned.|
If you enjoy my work, check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." It's available at Logos Bookstore, 1575 York Avenue, or buy it online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or other booksellers. If you do read it, please leave a few honest words about the book on Amazon and B&N. Thank you! (125 five-star Amazon reviews out of 125 posted)
My room after Mom cleaned it.