Fridays (Friday Number Four, September 8th, page 1 of 12)

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Hurray for life! It is indeed sweet! It's difficult to explain that I'm two months behind in reading my National Geographic, my house is becoming overridden by ambitious spiders whose cobweb construction is unparalleled, and my garden cries for attention. Dust balls rumble beneath my bed while my mop lays idle. Nevertheless, I'm unconcerned. At least I'm taking time to pen these pages lest I leave this book with the opinion the writer is always as maudlin as last Friday. This is another week and I am another Lucille Peabody, giddy with joy!

On Saturday I rose at dawn and went directly to my parents' room, beginning my dreaded task of cleaning it out without the fortification of either breakfast or coffee. I bit my lip and entered the forbidden territory, their hallowed quarters, as if it were as common as the kitchen.

I tackled the dresser first. Perfume bottles, dried to a brown stain on their bottoms, sat upon a lace doily. The mirror was entwined at the top in a decade of dried palm fronds, remnants of pre-Easter Sundays long since passed, while small funeral remembrance cards were tucked in the edges like a halo. And the bell.

In her last months, Mother would summon me with the tinkle of this small brass bell. I am looking at it now, this thing that kept me chained to a dying bed so long and so often. It stands about six inches tall and its handle is in the form of a rooster. Years have tarnished it to darkness but in no way diminished its obnoxious, demanding ring. I've failed to include it in either my pile of trash or my stack of donations. I can't answer why. I surely hate the damned thing and want it out of my new life. It stands as a reminder of the past and perhaps, if I become strong enough, my ability to put those days behind me.

Amy has called upon me to fling the bell as far as I can. On one of my seaside walks, I carried it along, tinkling in my purse. But try as I might, I couldn't move myself to pitch it into the sea. I have stripped it of its small clapper, forever silencing its inpatient ring. Little Lucille is making progress, albeit sluggishly.

I cautiously opened the dresser drawers. They smelled of Yardley's Old English Lavender and moth balls, but contained little. There was ancient underwear, slips and bras unused for ages, not to mention scores of carefully wrapped trinkets and glass figurines.

Mother was a hoarder of knick-knacks. A lifetime of little glass pitchers and statues cluttered our house, with the excess packed away in every nook and cranny. They were the fallout of numerous Christmases, birthdays and Mother's Days. Their sole purpose appeared to be giving my mother something to do; dusting the mass of junk at least weekly, as long as she was able.

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