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Friday, 18 April 2014

Oh, No! Not Grandmom

By Nancy Leitz

One thing that struck terror in the hearts of my young teenage children was hearing that Grandmom was on her way. Not that they didn't love Grandmom. They did. Very much. BUT, she was the World's Greatest Housekeeper and the only thing she did better than clean her house was criticize me for not doing as splendid a job as she did.

So, that meant that when Grandmom was coming we had to spend days straightening up, putting all toys, games and sporting equipment away and trying to find the can of Pledge we hadn't seen since her last visit and, finally, locating and running the vacuum cleaner.

One day the phone rang with the dreaded call. Aunt Tilly had died in Brooklyn and Roy and I were selected to drive Grandmom to the funeral. Uncle Ernie would bring her to our house and then we would take over and drive her to New York for the burial ceremonies.

The call came on Wednesday and the funeral was on Friday so we had two days to prepare the house for a white glove inspection. How would we ever do it?

Everybody went into a sort of blue funk as we considered our plight. One by one the kids came around to the realization that there was nothing to do but pitch in and get the place ready.

So they roused themselves from their lounging positions on the sofa and started looking around wondering where to begin this impossible task of having the house look as nice as Grandmom's house did.

The front door of our house leads directly into our family room, then on to our laundry room and powder room. If we didn't allow Grandmom into the family room and ushered her right up the steps to the living room we figured we were spared having to prepare those rooms for inspection and, best of all, we would put all the stuff we didn't know what to do with into the laundry room.

So, that was the master plan.The laundry room was our warehouse for all the things that really never had a "Place.”

Steve started with his Automobile Mountain Climbing Game. He picked up all the pieces and I helped him set them next to the washer. Carol had her ice skates and a dozen library books (Carol always had a load of books out of the library) and Chris helped her stack them next to the dryer and out of the way so he could put his chemistry vials and instruments next to them.

Jerry had a basketball and a real NFL Duke football he wanted to safeguard so they went IN the dryer. It took a couple of hours and every time somebody, including Dad, had an item they didn't know what to do with we all just shouted, "LAUNDRY ROOM.”

Pretty soon you couldn't walk in there but the living room, dining room and kitchen were free of toys and things and we were looking at the rug for the first time in awhile.

We found the vacuum cleaner and the kids did a good job of running it in the rooms that we were going to allow Grandmom to see. Pretty soon the upstairs rooms looked very nice and we were all congratulating each other on doing such nice work.

Now we just had to make sure it stayed that way for one more day.

The kids hardly breathed all day Thursday and never sat on any of the furniture because we had the sofa pillows all plumped up and the kitchen looked like a model home with flowers on the counter and two wine glasses next to the bowl of lemons that added a wonderful fragrance to our immaculate home.

Friday morning everyone is on edge. They are to be here at 10AM and by now we can't wait for it to be over. We were all in the kitchen making sure that everything was in place when we heard something like a typhoon blowing and without any warning the front door was thrown open and Grandmom came rushing in.

She did not hesitate for one second in her stampede to the powder room. She blew through the family room and went into the laundry room without missing a beat and then we heard the powder room door slam.

A collective groan went up from all if us . We knew it was all over and we were doomed to our fate. In a few minutes Grandmom came running out of the powder room, looked around at all the stuff piled in every nook and cranny of the laundry room.

She never went up the steps to see how beautiful the rest of the house looked. She shouted to Roy and me that she did not want to be late for Aunt Tilly's funeral and she would wait for us outside by the car.

As she was leaving through the front door, she took the time to turn in our direction and shout in her thick German accent, "You people keep a schloppy house."

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Nancy, I am giggling away here at your story. It reminds me of a 'cobweb' episode from years ago. I must put it down on paper. Thanks for the inspiration.

Oh, Lord. I guess no one anticipated that she'd need a powder room on arrival. Too bad you didn't choose a storage place that was off the beaten path to the loo.

Nice story! I always kept a clean house, but toys for 3 kids do have a way of piling up. When my parents were on their way, we got busy too!

I had an auntie's husband that was just like your grandmom. I loved visiting her house for there were always warm cookies and a glass of milk, but after I ate my cookie at the kitchen table, her husband quickly wiped it clean again. then when I got up from any chair he was always standing nearby, waiting to fluff up the cushions. if it weren't for the cookies I'd never have visited, but that temptation was too great for a little girl.

Well, you couldn't get anything past old Grandmom. That plot was doomed from the beginning.

Of course, so what? Pristinely clean homes must not be so fantastic, or everyone would have one.

I think there can be an allowable difference of standards between a "house" and a "home." I don't mind a lived-in appearance when a house is full of family and activity. That's a happy disorder.

Is that fate or what Nancy? Hilarious! What a great story...and what a wonderful group effort. I love it! ~Joy

Your delightful story (WELL TOLD) brought back memories of when my mother visited from out of town we called it "getting ready for the Bishop."
My kids never forgave her for without asking, shortening the drapes to sill-height,in the house I had just bought!


Oh, the infamous "Cobweb Incident"..Sounds very interesting.By all means, write the story and I'll be the first to read it.


We sort of knew Grandmom would need the restroom after her long ride with Uncle Ernie. That's why we spent so much time sterilizing the blue bathroom upstairs.

We didn't touch the powder room in the Laundry,which is the one Grandmom ran into.


Now you've done it! You have opened up a whole new can of worms about Grandmom and Grandpop.

They would also take your plate away and wash it while you were still eating and if you were reading the paper at their house and you had to "go", the minute you left your chair the light was turned off.


I like that expression..."Happy Disorder"
That describes our house to a T.

We always had a good time when our kids were young and their friends were always welcome to come and enjoy the chaos. If the house got a little messy that was all part of the price we paid for the good times we had and that, all these years later, the kids still laugh about.

Poor Grandmom never did "get it".


Good to see you again! Thanks for reading the story and for your nice comment.

It was probably the same way at your house when your kids were growing up.

Hi Janet:

Thanks for your nice comment.

I can just imagine what it was like at your house "Getting ready for the Bishop".

Sorry about your drapes!

Grandmom thought my house was rather messy, especially the kitchen when I was cooking.

Now that I'm a grandmom....well we won't get into that ...😁

I always said I kept my house "clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy."

Great little anecdote Nancy and very well written. I love the subtlety of her going outside to wait by the car lest the family intends to tarry.

Nancy, sorry I am late arriving. This is a story I wouldn't have missed for the world. Our life was so much the same. My parents visits filled me and the children with dread. Yes, we loved them so but they too looked at our house with great disgust over our housecleaning skill. My son prepared for an emergency visit by throwing everything he could in his closet and will never forget walking into his room to find grandpa pulling every single thing out of the closet with orders for my son to find the right place for it all.

So funny that Grandmom thought you kept a schloppy house. lol


I remember you telling me once that your Grandson asked you if you would still love him when he was old. You told him you would love him even if he was 100 and he was shocked and said, "But Grandmom, you might be dead then."

I'm sure with a smart boy like that in your family you would never tell him he kept a schloppy house even if he did!


I really think you are on the right track there.

I have read Health articles that say that quite a few children are not healthy because they are never exposed to germs of any kind.

Moms clean every surface in the house with Clorox or Lysol and the kid's never build up a resistance to anything so they are sick all the time.

You had the right idea from the start!

Hi Alan G.:

Thanks for your nice comment.

Grandmom was a lot of things, Alan, but ,trust me, she was never subtle.

We used to say if the State Dept. were choosing people, Grandmom would be the very last pick.

Thanks for reading the story.

Hi Annie:

I can just see your son throwing everything he owned into the closet when Grandmom was arriving. You know how I can see that so clearly? Because, my Chris used to do the same thing,.

If you asked Chris to clean his room he would start to sweep EVERYTHING into a big pile in the center of the room. Shoes, books, candy wrappers,shirts and toys were all in the mix.

Then he would pick out all the stuff he wanted and sweep the rest away in the trash. He had it down to a science; A clean room in 5 minutes was his speciality.

Granny was embarrassed by an urgent bladder, so she covered it with criticism to change the subject? ( haven't We All Been There, Done That?)

I don't know what happened yesterday because I missed TGB. It was a very busy day and I apologize for being late to comment.

I loved your story. I have a reverse story. When my kids were small I had invited a family for dinner. They had never been to my house so I wanted everything to be perfect. I had spent the day cleaning and dinner was in the oven and I just had time to shower and change clothes. I walked into the front hall and there was gravel all over the floor. I looked in the living room and my 4 year old daughter had scattered toys all over the room.

I came unglued and told them they could mess up more in 15 minutes than I could clean all day. My daughter looked up and me and said, "You know something Mommy; you never should have had children." At that point I couldn't help but agree.


Thanks for reading my story and your comment.

I think you are very kind to make excuses for Grandmom's

You are so right, we have all been there and done that, but she could have come upstairs to see all the work the kids did just to have the house look so nice for her visit.

She was very good to them in other ways so,of course, we all let it go and never mentioned it to her again.


I think you had a little prodigy on your hands.

That was a very clever remark for a 4 year old to make.

Thanks for the well written story. I know I've suffered such angst many times as all your commenters have. I was hoping for a happier ending, like with Grandmom appreciating all the family's interests that were hiding in the laundry room.

Don't hold your breath, Chlele. Grandmom was not one to pass out many compliments.

Even if she had gone upstairs to see our spectacular cleaning job, she would only have mentioned the one cat hair she spied on the sofa.

Thanks for your nice comment.

My mum would visit my home and run a finger over the furniture and examine for dust [I hate dusting]. She never said anything just looked and then got on with drinking her tea and chatting. Now she is blind she says it doesn't matter and there is more to life than cleaning. After all it's about enjoying each others company not how often I clean & tidy.
Dad was oblivious in the house but noticed when I was behind on lawn mowing which he did twice a week. Mind you he would empty the tool box on the floor to find a screw. My job as a child was to sort it all out and make it tidy. Funny how opposites were attracted.
Loved to read the blog as it brought back memories from when my gran and grandad came to visit

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