Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Saturday, November 24, 2007

New Shoes

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

In my early teenage years I remember one day there was an (Irish) American relative of ours on her way to our home. She had flown in a few days earlier, rented a car and was now driving from one end of the country to the other in order to see us all.
My mother, having had but a few days' notice to prepare, whooshed around cleaning our home from top to bottom; she scrubbed and dusted every little thing and put backbreaking work into making the place look respectable for our cousin.
During that time my brother and I were subjected to constant provocation and hassle about our attire and our personal appearance, that we might ourselves look shipshape and orderly on the big day. Not everything was matched or purchased fresh but she did her best.
We washed our ears more times than could be necessary.
Fingernails were trimmed and polished.
The truth was, our cousin would typically notice none of those things. What was important to her was seeing us for the first time in a good number of years.
On the afternoon of her impending arrival, we waited anxiously, trying not to get dusty.
We got a call from somebody a mile away informing us that an American had been spotted in the village and had been seeking out our house. She had been guided in the right direction and therefore was due at any second.
With the pressure over, my mother began to relax a little.
As we waited idly, she glanced at the shoes on my brother's feet. While they were in no way worn out, he certainly could do with a new pair soon. She commented in an offhand way,
"you need a new pair of shoes."

My brother, weary of the entire process of freshening up for guests, visitors and cousins, looked at his mother, sighed, glanced at his watch, then at his shoes, then in the direction our relative would be travelling from, and back to his watch again.
"Well," he said resignedly, "it's too late now."

I know my mother would not have done it any differently: it is to her a matter of respect and kindness to clean the home so properly.

However, that misunderstanding, and the fact that our relative, when she arrived, never once ran a finger along our shelves or bent to sniff our lovely clean carpet, served to indicate that it is indeed the company that matters most.

No comments:

Please look around, explore my writing, leave a crumb:
I welcome comments and thoughts.