I was suspicious at first. After losing a diamond ring, having several lamps shattered, and a number of cabinet doors ripped apart, I couldn't help but check on things.
Eventually, Tacy did break something - the vacuum cleaner. But she left me a note, offering to buy a replacement part that could fix the damage. That was when I realized what had troubled me about the previous cleaners, they just skirted around what was broken (or in the case of the ring, missing) like it was the open trench on a side walk. The unspoken awkwardness got to me more than the lost items.
So I left Tacy some money to buy the replacement part. She made a try at fixing things but the vacuum would not budge. Secretly I wondered if she knew from the start the whole thing was doomed. It certainly wasn't something I would have ever wanted to tackle on my own either. But for one reason or another we made several trips to the hardware store and tinkered with the blasted black box. When we finally threw up our hands and called it a lost cause, we were both too glad to put the whole thing behind us one way or another.
For weeks mom would come around and tell me Tacy left places here and there untouched. Once she left a note once saying: "Please clean the baseboards in the bathroom." True. A thick layer of dust had collected there but no where else for some reason. I was tempted to wipe them off myself but curiosity got the best of me so I waited, tough as ever it was for me to wait for anything.
Mom came around and found the baseboard spotless the next time around. That won her over and Tacy soon became the new cleaner for her sprawling three bedroom ranch. For weeks she sat on her couch and watched Tacy clean, telling her where she still needed to do more but eventually Tacy got work from mom's friends too. And mom went out to lunch while Tacy cleaned.
Tacy left me a note at the end of each cleaning, with a bright smiley face and a quick phrase of "thank you" or something brief about her next visit. Like a kid learning about what it mean to smell buttery popcorns (cinemas and a rolling good time), I began to look forward to those little notes as they always came with a renewed floor and kitchen with sparkling shines.
Dad was diagnosed with Cancer in May. Although friends offered to help, I was extra grateful to have hired a professional. One day towards the end of June, Tacy's note came with a vase filled with simple flowers, and a single sentence of sympathy. Dad had just passed away.
I hadn't talked to or seen her for months, linked with her only by those yellow sticky notes she left at the end of each cleaning. In my mind her face resembled the smiley on the post-it more than anything else. But somehow seeing the note made me want to get up and change out of my pajamas, and ran to Target to get a new shower curtain to replace the one that was fraying off to pieces at the bottom. I tossed out the cracked old plastic curtain rod too, and replaced it with a silvery steel model that held up nicely between the walls without leaving behind scraps and scuff marks. My new curtain had a crinkle texture and bold blue and gold stripes and after a few tries I was no longer afraid to pull it open and close (lest the whole contraption fell on me as the old set had a tendency of doing). Somehow the smooth operating, shiny and pretty new set made me want to take a soothing bath around scented candles, eyes closed, momentarily stop counting losses and thankful for my sparkling clean tub in and around which all of this could take place.
Tacy never left a note commenting on my new decor, but I pictured her smiling through her next cleaning visit.
|Not the actual flowers but a representation|