It could be worse?
“Sweetie, can you please come over and help me, the city came by and cited the yard. Said I have trash outside that has to be removed or else they’ll ticket me.”
“What kind of trash, mom?”
“Oh, not much. Just a few odds and ends”.
“I’ll stop on my way home, don’t worry.”
As I hung up the phone I reminded myself, it could be worse. She could be finally accepting my invitation to help her clean her house. She could be allowing me to come over suited up with a pseudo Hazmat uniform complete with a gas mask while carrying a shovel. But not this time. This time she only needs me to help her clean some recycling containers, maybe a few branches and dead tree parts. Perhaps even the broken glass from the window that was busted out last year that is now boarded up to cover the hole.
It could be worse, right?
No. Actually, it couldn’t be much worse.
You know that show, Hoarders? Well, I have yet to see an episode that shows anyone’s home worse than hers. The power went out (apparently) and she didn’t even realize it until months later because she couldn’t even get to the kitchen. She has three dogs, but there’s nary a sign of doggie doo in the backyard. How can this be, you will wonder. I caution you not to do that. You will bring yourself to the conclusion that this might explain why she doesn’t use the kitchen, and the deplorable minefield that she’d encounter should she try.
As I pull into the driveway I cringe at the site of the windows, grimy with paw prints undoubtedly from the sludge on the floor, obliterating any view to the inside. I remind myself that my not seeing inside is probably working in my favor.
“You don’t want to see inside.”
“You don’t want to know.”
I get out and hug her, tell her I love her, she makes me promise not to talk about the house. “Not today, Chris”, she says. I clean up the things she asks me to in the backyard that’s cleaner than her house. When I am finished, I notice how filthy my hands are. I won’t ask to wash them now. Washing my hands would mean going into the house. Must.Not.Go.Inside.
When I leave, I don’t cry. I hug her tightly, pull back and say, “Please reconsider on my bringing the shovel for the living room next time, okay?”
She sighs, smiles, hugs me again and says, “I’ll think about it, okay? I love you, Chris.”
“I love you too, Mom.”
I get in my truck, turn on to the street and then pull over, because the tears flooding my face have destroyed my vision.