Tonight I will make my third trip to Nashville in a week to assist my mother and be with my father in his time of dying. His eleven-month battle with cancer is winding down. Of all members of our family, my physical proximity to my parents is the closest, only three hours away, so it is relatively easy for me to zoom on down the interstate on short notice.
I had gotten home yesterday after a few days of being there while my dad was transitioning from the hospital to being at home with hospice care.
With a few quiet hours on my hands today, I decided to take on my kitchen. It had been a little bit neglected due to periods of being gone and then home for only a short time. There really is not much to my little 1950's kitchen. It is only about 10' x 10', and everything about it is quite simple and clean-lined. The best features are the windows that face both north and east, looking out over the farm fields, pond, and woods. It gets wonderful light!
Cleaning is good therapy for me. It gets me up and moving. Scrubbing the walls, cabinets and floors can cause me to work up a good sweat. In the process of cleaning, we throw out things that are no longer needed, wanted or useful, even though some of them may be difficult to part with-- a process in many ways akin to the letting go that comes with grief.
We make things seem shiny and new, which allows us to see them in a different way. Anything that clarifies one's perspective or challenges the way we look at things has therapeutic value.
Tending a house prompts us to appreciate the beauty that is right in front of us. The red bud tree across the yard has bloomed during my absence, and the countryside is greening right before my eyes. There is so much new and renewed life bursting forth at this time of year, a sharp contrast to the waning of my dad's life.
Taking a step back from our normal point-of-view changes how and what we see. My usual view of the sink is from hovering over it, looking down into it. By stepping back, I notice how the faucet and the old cabinet hardware glimmer in the early afternoon light.
In going through the process of losing someone we love, we develop a heightened awareness and appreciation of the ones we love who are still with us. Pyewacket has missed me dearly this week, it seems. She has not strayed very far from wherever I am at any given moment, including supervising as I mopped the kitchen floor.
While I have lost any ability to control what goes on with my dad's health, I do have the ability to control what goes on in my own space. Cleaning helps me to generate a sense of control in some small, but meaningful, ways. I also rest assured and comforted that when I walk back in through my door, regardless of what happens, this kitchen will be a fresh and welcoming sight.
Until next time...