|Mom, with Chris and Jerry.|
Mom's the goofy one in the middle.
With six kids, one husband, assorted hired men and various other duties and hobbies, she did a lot of it.
I think she did it in her sleep.
Certainly, she did it in ours. If we lay down on the carpet in the front room for a nap, we would be picked up and cleaned.
That's just how Mom was.
But, as with any demon cleaner, sometimes the clutter and rubble would get away from her.
Particularly if she was busy with a project and unable to follow us around, picking up and tidying after us.
I can remember two instances when this was brought hilariously to my attention.
The kids in the neighbourhood had been playing at my house.
I don't remember what we were doing, but it involved toys and games.
After most of the kids had left, Mom came out of the kitchen and surveyed the detritus that can only be the result of many small bodies . . . having fun.
While she was standing there, Laurie, from next door, twitched her apron.
Mom looked down.
"You sure have a messy house, Mrs. Strin-gam!"
I don't know what Mom said in response.
Probably something tactful, knowing my Mom.
But the story lost nothing in the retelling.
Another time, George and I were playing under the kitchen table.
I know. Weird.
Mom was bustling around in the business area of the room.
She opened a cupboard.
And pulled out something . . . unexpected.
"What the . . . who put this underwear in my cupboard?!"
What she was holding was actually a pair of swim trunks.
With sharks printed on them.
But why quibble over details.
George and I stared at them.
Then laughed uproariously.
Mom snorted, folded them neatly, and carried them to their proper home.
We never found out who left them there.
Over the years, I've made up several scenarios that would account for it.
But after that, at least once a week, George and I would hide something 'underwearish' (not a real word - I made it up) in Mom's cupboard and wait for her to find it.
Then laugh ourselves silly when she did.
Okay, we were little.
Things were funnier then.
There is an addendum.
I was busy in the kitchen, cooking, cleaning.
One of the myriad duties that accompany the care and feeding of six kids and one husband.
I set a pot in the sink and opened a cupboard door.
"What the . . . who put these dirty socks in my cupboard?!"
I had turned into my mother!
It's a good thing.