Care and Cleaning
by Susan Flemming
As Jean looked around her mother's small apartment, she hated that it had come to this. Hated what that disease had done. How far her mother's mind had descended into disarray. The evidence was all around; from the sour odour of dirty dishes stacked in the sink to the floors spotted with juice and coffee stains that her shoes stuck to as she walked across.
When he was alive, her father loved to brag, "Ain't no better housekeeper in the world than my Ann. You could eat off them floors."
Not anymore, Jean thought. Not anymore.
It was a neighbour who'd alerted them. Called to say, "Your mother doesn't answer the door now for two days. We don't ever go that long without a good gossip."
Ed lived the closest, so got there first.
The ambulance was just pulling away as Jean pulled up.
Ed would follow in his car. Be there to start filling out the paperwork. Jean was to pack a bag and bring it along. His quick description of the state of things didn't prepare Jean for the sight that greeted her upon entering the apartment.
This was not how her mother would have wanted her house left. And not how Jean wanted to remember it in the endless hours of waiting she knew lay ahead of them at the hospital.
Instinctively, Jean began to clean, in the manner her mother taught her. By the time she finished, the dishes and the floors were eating clean.