My dad doesn’t have the same measure of cleanliness that I do. I walk into his apartment and it feels so dirty to me. I ask him if he wants me to clean up ‘a bit’. He says, if it makes you happy, go ahead. Science projects at various stages in the refrigerator (you know, different color molds at different levels of bloom), the toaster oven is so caked you cant see the bagel toasting through the glass window.
Yesterday I tackled the refrigerator. Today, I cleaned the toaster oven. Yeay, I can see my bagel toasting (I never eat bagels, but when I come to NY, you know, it’s just in the air…). Makes me feel some weird level of accomplishment.
Dad say, you know, you just scrape of the mold, it’s good underneath. He retells the story of getting a much desired salami from his mom during WW2 (he was stationed in the Philippines). He threw it out because it was moldy; found out later that you can just cut off the mold and it’s great. He has lived his life with that philosophy ever since!
We all have such different rules we live by. Yes, cleaning his place makes me feel good. He’s fine with either way. I have all these beliefs about mold and grime, and he’s 91 and quite healthy. Maybe, like penicillin, it has helped him. And at this point, who am I to argue?
I think, I am doing this cleaning for him, and you know what? He enjoys that it floats my boat. Yes, it makes me feel better, and like I’m taking care of him somehow. He enjoys that I am here, whatever I am doing.
Why do you do what you do? It’s real helpful to get clear on intention.
I’m not going to spend all day cleaning ‘for his sake’-just a few hours ‘for my sake’ and enjoy the rest of the day hanging with him.
On to the cupboards tomorrow….