Once More, With Feeling


Today, our house appraises. It’s the last major hurdle in selling our house and buying Dad’s place. We all went to work yesterday, sweeping and polishing and picking up. The idea is to get it to appraise above asking price so the bank will approve the loan for the people purchasing our house.

Ruby cleans her room every Saturday. I use the term “clean” loosely, for it’s a constant battle. Granted, she has the smallest bedroom of all of us. But the accumulation of toys, art supplies, art projects, leftover food, stray clothes, books and the cat puts it over the top every week.

As I tucked her in last night, I picked my way through the rubble to her bed. However, Chloe had already claimed the only open spot, up near Ruby’s pillow.

“Didn’t you clean your room yesterday?” I asked, surveying the aftermath.

“Yes,” Ruby said. “I’m cleaning out my closet.”

That explained the overflowing tub of sequins, pom-poms, fabric and paper sitting in the middle of the floor. Chloe jumped down off her perch to squat on top of the flat box next to it. It also contained arty items.

“What’s the plan here?” I asked. I patted the bed down before I sat. Ever sat on scissors?

“Well, I need to get this cleaned up,” she said, tossing things out of her closet. “Will you help me?”

“No,” I said without hesitation. “But I will keep you company.”

I’ve spent too many hours in that small, formerly pink prison performing excavation. I’ve uncovered dried-up apple cores, butterfly ink stamps, spilled nail polish and dollar bills. Despite having a smart collection of tiny purses, Ruby used to lose her allowance on a regular basis. All of that was before she figured out the value of money. Cleaning her room proved a true treasure hunt.

“Look, Mom!” she’d shout, waving the green rectangle in the air. “I found $5!”

We’d both cheer. It felt like getting a raise every week.

Ruby sat down next to me on the fuzzy pink blanket.

“I’m going to miss this house,” she said.

“Me too, baby,” I said, holding her close.

This is the last big push before we move out of the home we’ve lived in and loved for the last 10 years. Sure, she’ll keep on cleaning her room until we move. And then, every week after, world without end.

Just don’t tell Ruby.





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