The farm was still standing when I got home. It was even straightened up. But it was dirty. This is how bad it was: It stunk. It took me two days to clean up the clutter that was thrown into the pantry. When I finally got inside, I found a plastic gallon with sour milk inside and the shelf was stained where the potatoes rotted and melted through the bag. The hot dogs in the refrigerator were green-molded. Hot dogs are full of preservatives—they last forever. I don’t think I can get the stains out of the toilet. Kurt said that’s okay; we need a new one anyway. It was dark. I replaced two light bulbs in the chandelier in the kitchen. I soaked the kitchen sink and the coffee pot in bleach. I Windexed, polished or scrubbed every horizontal surface in the house causing my sponge to disintegrate and my mop to fall apart leaving wet yarns all over the floor. The weeds were growing up through the deck and the deck is high. I’m sorry, it’s a cliché, but it was a jungle out there. The barn smelled like a cellar. Saddle pads were speckled with mold. Mud daubers built nests on the pommels of saddles and there was cat poop or puke, I couldn’t tell which, on the floor. No one picked up manure in weeks.
I’ve been cleaning non-stop. I’m glad to be home and get my place back in order. Even more glad to be with my husband and daughter again. (Even though those two were the culprits in this mess.) But I feel guilty about going on with my life, sweeping the porch, riding a horse, while my mother is suffering up there. I haven’t been able to talk to her since I got home. She’s been too incoherent. They have her on a heavy-duty pain drug that is knocking her out. I couldn’t help thinking, this is what it will be like if I lose her. I won’t be able to tell her about the stains in the sink or the weeds in the yard. I won’t be able to say, “Do you believe this Ma?”
And yet…I am distracted by the dust.