Sometimes I think I far exceed my mother in housekeeping skills, at other times I think I am just the next-generation pack rat. Although I occasionally get inspired to finally throw away something that has been kicking around the house unused and unwanted for years, it is never anything from my mother's house. Those little knick knacks, however tacky or incongruent with my color schemes, mean much more to me than tasteful objets d'art or color-coordinated art posters designed to "tie it all in". My decor is definitely not like that, it's the most un-tied interior non-design you will ever see.
One item I cherished, although it had no place to call its own, was one of two decorative hand-painted plates, graced by red and purple grapes on one and a pineapple and some other unidentifiable but equally textured fruit on the other. My mother had bought these stunning works of art and hung them on her kitchen wall. And they hung there unmolested for a very long time. That is, no one cleaned or dusted them, they just became a way of measuring the passing of time by the inches of sediment.
One night, as my mother talked long distance on the phone to her sister, she got one of those occasional inspired urges to dust the plates. For reasons no one ever understood, at half-past midnight my mother suddenly couldn't stand the dust that accumulated on those decorative plates any longer. So with the phone in one hand and a dustrag in the other, she set about clearing the dust and cobwebs from the pineapple.
My mother had recently installed a ceramic tile floor, or rather my brother had done it for her (she complained bitterly about the hard nature of the tile for years). Anything that left your hand, was pretty much destroyed once it hit that floor.
My mother dropped that pineapple plate and it split into three pieces upon contact with the tile, bounced up and a knife-shaped shard sliced up her calf on it's way back towards the wall . I don't think she even felt it and there was no blood at all, the wound was so neatly cut. But as I came to examine it, I cautioned her against twisting around to see the back of her leg, for several layers were sliced through and it looked more like something you would see at the butcher's shop than a calf. Instead I encouraged her to go to the Emergency Room with as much calm urgency as I could manage.
Several stitches and a few weeks time healed the leg wound. The empty wire plate holder still hung on the wall next to its twin, which still held grapes securely in place. Many more years would pass before the application of new wallpaper necessitated the removal of the two fixtures.
I still have the grape plate, although it suffered a similar fate as the pineapple by falling to the floor. It only got chipped but enough so that it isn't suitable for display. Some would say, thank goodness, as it wasn't very attractive. But I keep the plate because it will always remind me of my mother, her aspirations to cleanliness and her complete acceptance of her failure to achieve it.
Or maybe, I just want an excuse not to dust.