Music is powerful.  It awakens our senses, lifting us to heights we never dreamed possible, or else giving us reason to gird our loins and grit our teeth.  It sways the masses. It lulls the infant.  It serves as a tool when in love.  It is the secondary heat beat for so many individuals.

My go-to song when shit gets real is the old Sinatra tune, "My Way". Sung in a minor key, it serves no other purpose than to harness my determination to assert myself.

For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught 
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels 
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way...

Such was the case all during February. My mother is still in the hospital.

Mum is a stubborn individual. She holds on to everything, and frequently buys junk through Publishers Clearing House.  The result was clutter and everyday items left out because cupboards, shelves, drawers, and other storage areas were filled with that junk.  The rest of us couldn't function as efficiently as we needed to, nor access our things without knocking over junk.  The clutter everywhere prohibited us from cleaning, let alone enjoying, the downstairs. (And the PCH and other knock-off products didn't clean well at all.)  The house was somewhat clean but visually chaotic.

I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

It started in the kitchen.  I emptied out all the drawers, putting everything on the table in front of Dad. To that pile I added all the shit on the countertops.  The surface was groaning with junk.  We then proceeded to sort it all.  There wasn't any reason to have five whisks. Two returned to the kitchen.  Likewise, we didn't need four broken wooden spoons, ten thermometers, eight measuring sets, and so on.  I assured my father that all the surplus would go into a box for storage in the basement - a compromise that alleviated his own hoarder stress.

When I was done, everything was organized to fit into a few drawers (freeing up an entire drawer!) and the counter tops had so much room!  We relocated the garbage pail so we could clean any spills around it, and tackled the cabinet carousel, purging all the expired food.

It was a thorough cleaning and a disruption of negative energy.  For once, the kitchen didn't feel oppressive.  The air seemed lighter.  The chi was sorted.  I finished the job by hanging a new valance and sheer curtains.  It suddenly felt very much like our place, Dad included.  Mum's pictures remained up, as did her knickknacks....these plastic and resin monstrosities will be purged when she returns home. Store 'em, chuck 'em, or put them elsewhere.  It shouldn't take ten minutes to dust a window ledge!

We turned our eyes upon the dining room next.  All our papers - and junk mail that my mother kept adding to our pile -were organized to fit in a small box. Out went the junk mail, and all the Publisher's Clearing House envelopes and useless crap.Mum's papers went into a basket so she could sort them later.

The Foyer was somewhat welcoming though a bit crowded by the spare dining room chairs. I tucked kickknacks elsewhere to open it up visually.  The "living room"/Dad's room was sanitized and all his things neatened. These didn't take much energy. 

The downstairs is now organized, easy to clean, and calming.  It smells and feels wholesome.  New drapes replace the busy-pattern rose things that hung over windows and the slider door (for all the world, they resembled bed sheets).  There isn't a trace of cigarette stench to be found; All the nicotine has been removed from fabric and washable furnishings and art.  Bookshelves still clutter the dining room and foyer but I suspect these will disappear once Mum realizes how difficult maneuvering a wheelchair actually is in tight spaces. It feels like home.

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew...

The upstairs came next.  I started in the bathroom. It was disgusting in there, and Better Half and I had nowhere but a high sheld for our own supplies but - as was typical - my mother refused to let me organize.

It took four days.  FOUR days! Three contractor grade trash bags filled with expired medicines, broken stuff, PCH cheap shit that doesn't work, debris, nearly 80 tiny bottles of shampoos and soaps and scrubs that my parents insist on taking home after hospital stays, and more. It was impossible to mop the floor because of all the distilled water and bleach bottles.  I won't get into all the things that didn't even belong in a bathroom.  All of this shit stuffed in drawers or on shelves meant that daily use products were left out.  Clutter galore.

Purged!  Neatened! Things put away! Nicotine stripped away. Everything but the shower basin was scrubbed.  (Better Half had best scrub it tonight because I'm tired of asking him to.)

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this...

I have wanted to clean her bedroom for a while.  It was the final room to tackle.

Despite us telling her that Better Half has difficulty with certain chemicals and cigarette smoke, and despite us reminding her that Dad (who used a CPAP) shouldn't be around smoke due to prior clots in his lungs, my mother insisted on smoking in the bedroom.  The stench was unreal due to her never opening a window to ventilate.

I'll remind my readers that I used to smoke like a chimney. My house never reeked of it. Opened windows and smoking outside mitigate that nasty ashtray flavor to the air.

Mum now has clean sheets, vacuumed rugs, newly washed curtains, and...well... clutter. I'm not about to sort her bedroom things. This is her domain. I washed knickknacks, polished the furniture, and put everything back on it.  We kept the window open for a few hours to rid the room of the ashtray smell, and I replaced the hidden air freshener.  My goal was to give her a tranquil place to sleep.  I'm hoping she finds it restful.

Our own bedroom had a sprucing.  The office was left for Dad to sort.  There's just too much shit in there for us to tackle on our own.

But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way

It is my sincere hope that Mum will come home to find relaxing surrounds rather than freaking out because junk was organized.

We needed to make things easier on us. We can't take care of her and Dad if we're working in a disorganized and cluttered environment.  As it stands now, the cleanliness has allowed us to provide quality care to Dad.  He's able to access things as well, and takes pride in being independent.

This is where I put my foot down. We can't go back to the chaos.  I need to stand firm in my decision to make things accessible for everyone in the house. I need it to be uncluttered so I can clean it.  No matter how much grief she gives me, I will strive onward with the knowledge that my choices were for the good of the entire family rather than just catering to one person's demands.


"My Way" in a minor key?

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