On housekeeping


“Have a seat but don’t touch anything,”  she warned me as she let me into the house. “It’s all dusty.”

And so I sat carefully on the edge of a couch in the dusty sitting area, looking at photographs — dusty like she said — on every surface and wondering if anything here has changed in the past decade?

I heard her talking to her dog outside, then walk back. She sat in a chair across from me.

“I don’t believe in dusting,” she said. “I just don’t have time.”

We’re putting out a special World War II edition next month and I was assigned a story about her husband, now several years deceased. She had a handful of notes for me and seemed unsure how she could help — she didn’t know him during the years he served — but she knew enough and answered all my questions.

58 years of living with someone leaves you knowing plenty. She visited the beach with him, 30 years after allied troops took it, and marveled that he ever came home.

And when she brought out his photograph its frame, too, was dusty. The medals in the frame on the wall was dusty, too.

But I wouldn’t have noticed it if she hadn’t pointed it out each time.

“See? I told you I don’t dust,” she said when she handed me the picture (her favorite; his sideburns down below his cheekbones). And yes, there was dust along the top and in the corners of the photograph.

She didn’t believe in dusting. But someone once convinced her it was important. And every time she said it again I wondered at some internal struggle.

If life’s too short and too busy for dusting, isn’t it too short and too busy to apologize for it at every turn?

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Filed under Notebook sketches, People

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