Susan says my knives and forks are a mess, my windows are dirty and the back room is freezing.
Simon can’t find any sharp knives or in fact any decent cutlery at all. I tell him we had that party for Anna six or seven years ago and a lot of knives and forks went into the compost bin with the left-over food. He counters this by giving us a magnificent set of cutlery for Christmas.
Debbie says my tea towels are old and stained and don’t I ever iron them? The cupboard near the stove is disgusting. And WHY don’t I throw all the leftovers from the fridge? And I should get rid of all the mugs with chips on them.
Anna complains off unpleasant smells as soon as she arrives – the compost bucket stinks and so does the rubbish bin, and she even sniffs the Esky which I don’t clean out properly when we come home from a picnic. I’ve lost my sense of smell so I tend to believe her, but no matter how hard I scrub everything the smell persists.
“Poor Dad,” Jane says. “Why does he have to do so much cooking? And you don’t have to make us eat everything on our plates- we’re not children anymore. And for God’s sake get rid of all that rubbish in the fridge.”
She puts things back in the sink to be washed again and throws out the old dishcloth.
Grey wants me to get a new rubbish bin that isn’t broken and says it’s a damn nuisance having it in the cupboard under the sink. And did I know that you can get fridges now with the freezer at the bottom instead of the top?
Even my grandchildren are joining in. Emma says knives and forks are the hardest ones to get clean and hands them back to me. Young Jane looks pointedly at the tea-stained sink and asks why I don’t get some of those ENJO products.
My sister Rose says I wash up too quickly and this dish rack is filthy. She has a dishwasher and a terrible fear of germs.
We had a dishwasher once, a big old thing that threw water all over you if you happened to open the lid before it was finished. It was handy when all the kids were home. Now it seems like an extravagance to have even a smaller one, because most of the time there are just the two of us, and anyway where would we put it? And would it conserve water?
What if we stack all the dirty dishes on the sink and wash up once a day?
Or move to a smaller place with no room for visitors?
I gave this article to my husband to read. The result? A brand new dishwasher.
Lis Williams lives in Inverloch and is a member of the Bass Coast Writers.
October 24, 2013
Lis Williams’s beautiful story reminded me of lecturing my own mother on her blunt knives and concave bread boards, both worn away by 30 years of use.
And pleading with her not to put the dinner plates on the floor for the dog to finish off, at least not in front of visitors.
As for dirt, I recall visiting her a couple of years before she died and noticing for the first time a layer of dust on everything. I was shocked because it suddenly occurred to me how clean my mother must have kept the house all my life without my ever noticing. Perhaps she no longer had the energy for cleaning or perhaps she could no longer see the dirt, but I like to think she had risen above it all.