I lugged my parents' vacuum cleaner out on the front porch yesterday to empty the dirt from the canister and clean out the beater bar, which was full of hair, both my daughter's long hair and umpteen swatches of my mother's gray hair from a recent hair cut.
I have to say that being able to see the vacuum's contents is a good lesson in humility. That's why, as a Catholic housewife, I recommend this kind of vacuum over one with a bag. Pondering the contents yesterday on the porch, I wanted to run. I didn't actually see them, but I knew that somewhere in that depth of dirt, skin flakes, hair, bits of leaves, and food crumbs, lurked my Dad's fingernail trimmings, several of which I noticed while wielding the clippers, were lined with fecal material. Yes, I had definitely waited too long to trim his nails.
I have come to the conclusion, after much contemplation, that family member's poop really is a defining element of my life, as well as possum poop, dog poop, cat poop, chicken poop, and cow poop. There's much to be contemplated in this revelation. I aim to get to it.
Turning my attention to the beater bar, I used a pair of scissors to pry loose the long hair and then pulled it and the gray hair and some dust/dirt balls out. My stomach turned. I was watching myself and thought, "What right have you to be disgusted? Imagine what gruesome grit Christ deals with from your sins."
"Truly," I answered myself, "the housewife's calling is a continuous calling to die to self."
I remembered also that hair is a symbol of the pride of life. Ah. Such lessons I am given in my daily duties!
Assessing my housewifely career so far, as near as I can tell, it doesn't get easier. Just like the beater bar wrapped round with both my daughter's and my mother's hair, I am called to clean up daily the poop of the circle of life. And to do it joyfully, whether it's from my parents' accidents or rogue possums.
This I am working on. As I told Emma after being repulsed by finding possum poop in my bedroom, "I tried to embrace this trial joyfully and imagine myself smiling, but instead the loathsome visage of a hissing possum popped into my head."
No wonder God keeps sending me more poop.
I always knew that as we age, we return to our infancy, but I never expected that in caring for my parents, I would constantly have these moments where I am catapulted back to my children's infancy and youth--like when I lean into the car to fasten one of my parents' seat belts, I have these jarring, yet pleasant, flashbacks of buckling my children into our blue Dodge van. Or when I bend over to wash Dad's pee from the front of the toilet and mop up the resulting puddle on the floor, I see vividly my own son as a toddler, butt cheeks squeezed hard together, standing on tiptoe trying valiantly to aim perfectly into the toilet.