It’s bedtime and everything in my mother’s home is perfect. The kitchen is spotless. Magazines, books and mail put away. Furniture dusted. Bathrooms washed. Carpets and floors clean (My children seriously believe that anything that falls on Grandma’s floor remains clean). Next, she showers and puts on a freshly pressed nightgown (Don’t even try explaining to her that the nightgown will be wrinkled before midnight). Then she sits to brush her hair a hundred strokes. Finally, she reads her Bible and prays. This will be her ritual till her dying day.
Why does she do this? Obsessive-compulsive? Well, yeah a little. But the real reason she has repeated to me at least 2 million times since I was 2: “You never know when you are going to die or when Jesus is going to come. You and your home must be in order. You must always be ready.” Unfortunately for her, I’m more down-to-earth than my mother. Such statements made no dent in me. That is until she translated her philosophy into language I could relate to. She sat me down one day in my one-quick-shower-once-a-week, pre-puberty phase. She said, adding more melodrama and urgency with every phrase, “Fyl, imagine you are climbing the Beetle Tree. With Wesley. And you fall. You are hurt—with broken bones,and gashing wounds. You are rushed to the hospital. And there, the doctor—and maybe even Wesley—sees how dirty you are (pause for effect), how smelly your clothes are (another pause), how sticky your socks are (final big pause for big effect), and how cruddy your underwear is. . .” Talk about embarrassment therapy–To this day, I can’t go a day without a shower or look at Wesley without thinking of cruddy underwear.
To this day, my mother lives each day like there’s only today and ends each day like there’s no tomorrow.