A long time ago I had a friend whose home was in total disarray. Phyll was a single woman with four children and, at that time, her youngest was only a baby. Her house was always extremely untidy and cluttered and that made it very hard to clean up. Most days she did her best. Four children made for a lot of laundry and that alone took up most of her day. Like myself she could not afford an automatic washing machine or dryer so she depended on an old fashioned twin tub and washing lines and dryers. So - what with the laundry and the cooking and looking after the baby she had little time for anything else.
My sister and I persuaded Phyll to take a holiday. We thought it would do her good. It was early summer and she and the baby went to stay with another friend in the west of Ireland. While she was away I was to look after the her children.
As usual my friend left her house in a big mess – filthy kitchen, mountains of laundry, untidy bedrooms and dirty floors. I had plenty of free time during the day while all the children were at school so decided to tackle her washing pile. The weather was fine and perfect for outside drying. I started carrying loads of washing over to my house . It was easy enough to run them through my twin tub but soon I ran out of washing line space. My next door neighbour noticed how much laundry I was doing and jokingly enquired if I was taking it in. I told her that was exactly what I was doing. She kindly offered me the use of her line and when Jean, my other neighbour, saw me hanging laundry on Dorothy's line she offered me the use of her line as well.. By this time the kids were home from school and we had quite an assembly line going. They'd haul the laundry to me in baskets – I’d wash it and peg it out on my three lines and we'd all help to fold the stuff when it dried.
When that was done we became enthused and decided to clean the entire house. For the next couple of days we cleaned, decluttered and polished. Everyone helped, even the youngest boy who was only about five or six. I even fixed the broken down refrigerator. All that it needed was a new fuse.
Beds were changed, everything was polished and on the day that Phyll was due to return I’d lit a fire and filled the living room with flowers from my garden. She was to be back late so the children were spending a last night with me. Phyll had enjoyed the break. And instead of going over to her shining house (I hadn't told her) she sat chatting and drinking cup after cup of tea. I was enjoying our chat but itching for her to see her house and hoping that the fire wasn't out. At last she decided to go home and I walked over with her. Her delight when she saw what we'd done was wonderful. She couldn't believe it! She literally jumped for joy!
I sometimes recall the joy I felt at Phyll's pleasure. Soon afterwards, she fell out with me and, despite our eventually making up, our friendship was never the same again. But even that doesn't dim my happy memory. nor does it spoil it when I remember that within days Phyll's house was well on the way back to its usual disorderly state.
With the help of her children and some friends we cleaned her house. She was more than pleased, it gave me a lot of happiness. That's enough.