Every spring, it was the same old song and dance. Fredericka would gather all of her clutter and place it outside on tarps. She had the system worked out like clock-work. The trash pile to the south, the things she could sell to the east and the rest of it, the things she would keep, to the north, close to the door. If rain were in the forecast, she had a large plastic tent that she could put up over her items to keep them dry. This time around, she wouldn't have time to deal with the excess papers and junk: she was bed-ridden.
The sickness had taken over slowly, weakening her day by day. By the time her daughter, Carrie, forced her to see a doctor, the cancer had spread through her chest and body. She was no longer covered by medical insurance, and too proud to accept hand-outs, so she determined to ride out whatever time she had left in her own home, on her own terms.
Her daughter came to visit her every day, bringing her homemade soup and fresh-cut flowers to add a dash of "spring" to her dismal room.
"Oh, hon," Fredericka reached for Carrie's elbow, "Would you mind bringin' me that box of bills and papers from the kitchen before you go? I want to get my spring cleanin' done before summer comes."
"Mom, don't fuss with that stuff, you need your rest." Her daughter looked at her with concern.
"Don't you be tellin' me what I need, young lady. As far as rest goes, I'll be restin' all I need when I go to see the Lord." She regretted the words as soon as they slipped through her lips. As old as Carrie was, she couldn't hide the quiver in her lower lip as she resisted the urge to cry. Despite her faith that her mother would be with Jesus when she passed, Carrie didn't want to let her go.
"Darlin', I know it ain't easy for you knowin' that I'm goin' to my final destination, and I know you're doin' all this here stuff, like bringin' me pretty flowers and such, to try and cheer me up. But I've been itchin' to get my house clean, and it ain't gettin' done by itself." Fredericka knew that apologies couldn't take back whatever pain her daughter was feeling.
After a long moment of silence, Carrie left the room and returned with the box of papers her mother had requested. With that, she went home.
It would be a few days before Carrie would return to the house. She sent her husband to supply the soup and flowers instead, and asked that he report back to her on her mother's condition.
"I'm not a baby, you know, Dave." Fredericka chastised him for adjusting her bedsheets. He nodded in silence, in fact, he did most things in silence before he returned home to his wife.
A week after Carrie had quit showing up at her mother's, she was back again.
"Mother, you needn't worry about spring cleaning." Fredericka went to interrupt, but Carrie held up her hand to silence her. "You've been mulling over that same box for days, goodness knows that you can't do the whole house. So, I've petitioned the ladies at church to help out. They're here and they're ready to do what it takes. You want your house clean? We'll get it clean for you by Monday."
Fredericka was speechless.
As the days went by, the cleaning was going marvelously, with Fredericka dictating what went where and what to sell, what to throw away. It was a double God-send; the house was getting clean, and the fellowship seemed to be providing her with new-found strength.
Monday morning came, and Carrie dashed happily up her mother's front step. As usual, she let herself in, and she took a deep breath of the lemony-fresh clean.
"Mom! I brought you some muffins!" She called out as she left her coat on a chair in the kitchen and headed down the hall to her mother's room. The ladies had done a wonderful job on the house. Not an inch was left untouched. She put down the bag of muffins on the table outside the room. "Mom? You awake?"
Fredericka was laying towards the window as Carrie approached. "Mom?" She reached out to grasp her mother's hand. It was cold. Jesus had come to clean house.
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