there is nothing noble

about living in filth.

That is how my father lived…in filth. He is one of those people who creates filth just by existing. I’m not talking about being messy. I’m not even talking about clutter, though there was plenty of that. I’m talking disgusting, nauseating, disease-ridden filth. There is no creature on earth that chooses to live in filth except human creatures, and those who do are aberrant.

I remember when I was young, I hated being near Dad’s side of my parent’s bedroom. His side was always cluttered and his night stand and dresser dusted with a fine coating of dander. Now, my mom was a cleaning fanatic. The woman never stopped cleaning, even though she worked outside the home until she retired. We lived in a house full of smokers but you never smelled smoke when you walked in the house. Ashtrays were washed several times a day. She scrubbed down the bathroom after her shower every morning and dusted and vacuumed at least once a day. You would be hard-pressed to find a cobweb in the attic or a dust-bunny in the basement let alone in the rooms we lived in. When I lived at home, she had my bed made before I got out of my morning shower. It drove me nuts. I thought she was insane. I mean, I’d be smoking a cigarette and turn to put it out to find the ashtray had been washed, dried and put back between puffs.

But, I now understand what she was battling. She was battling the unholy cesspool that is my father. I tried to keep after him but when my bad back sent me to surgery in March of 2007, I stopped cleaning my Dad’s apartment. The amount of pure, nicotine-laden filth that he managed to put down over every surface in his small, one bedroom abode is staggering.

Today, Brni, Gordon and I spent the day loading up a U-Haul of salvageable furniture from his place for distribution between my sons, my sister and us. It took me 3 hours to clean one lamp table and my poor cedar chest which I’d lent the old man. There was so much dirt and nicotine on everything that it took many scrubbings to (almost) remove all the black, gummy residue. After I was done, I felt so toxic I had to scrub myself down…but I could still smell the disease. I finally realized I had to wash out my sinuses with salt water to breath freely again.

I am beside myself knowing that tomorrow I have to go over to his place again to meet the 1-800-GOTJUNK guys to take away the stuff that we couldn’t salvage. Everything that was upholstered is unfit for man or beast. I feel guilty thinking of the pollution its disposal will cause, but I have no choice since the township won’t let me burn it. Then, after the apartment is empty, I have to clean it.

I may never get over this.

12 thoughts on “there is nothing noble

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Don’t know what to say.
    I felt a lot of the same things about my father. I didn’t like to go into the bathroom after he had taken his morning shower. I could hear him coughing and spitting the whole time, and when I went into the bathroom after him, every surface was wet and I thought it was covered with spit. Made me start to retch…
    I can still see my mother cringe when he went near her…it was from my father that I had the idea that boys and men were dirty. The world was black and white, dirty and clean. Men were black and dirty, women were white and clean. Took me a long time to get over all that…
    I’ve since come to understand that my father had some pretty serious emotional problems. The drinking, gambling, abuse of my mother, never caring to learn anything, etc., etc…it was all just his way of not dealing with it.
    Still, I felt sorry for him as I sat by his deathbed in the hospital. He had inoperable cancer and he was in a coma, yet moaning. I felt sorry for him…
    Ah…our fathers…how much of us they determined…
    Do you have an iPod or walkman or something? Put earphones on and play loud music while you’re waiting for GOTJUNK to show up. That’s what I would do to take my mind off it…Oh, and pick or buy yourself some strong-smelling flowers to take with you. Their perfume will break the smell spell … will keep the foul-smelling spirits away.
    Sending brave thoughts your way.
    –Barbara (overloaded with work) 🙁

    1. lsaboe says:

      wow. amazing.
      I had no idea that you or anyone would understand let alone experience something similar.
      I love the idea of using my ipod and flowers to shield me from the sour smell of “Father.” Thank you for the brave thoughts and knowledge that I’m not alone, though I’m as sorry for your experience as I am for my own.
      Shall we get together sometime soon? After I’m finished cleaning up after the old man?

      1. Anonymous says:

        Yeah, sounds good!
        Hey, have you noticed how coffee shops are starting to multiply around here like rabbits? We have a Saxby’s real close to where I live, and in Paoli there’s a place called It’s a Grind. They both have wireless …and great coffee!

    2. ossobucco says:

      The only problem with the flower idea is that you’ll forever associate them with cleaning up that mess. You’ll either hate them or love them after that!
      This is terrible. I wish you strength. If I lived anywhere near, I’d come over and help clean and I’m not just saying that.
      Soon you’ll be free of all this ….

      1. lsaboe says:

        actually, what i have been doing is carrying a bottle of lavender EO with me to help me get through this. when i’m feeling overwhelmed, i just take a little sniff to clear my senses.
        i believe that you would help me if you were closer, but as i told another friend, i wouldn’t subject anyone outside of immediate family to this.
        but the thoughts and offers of support are help enough…
        thanks! 🙂

      2. lsaboe says:

        yes! in fact brni and i discussed it and he thought it would be much better to hire someone, so i did! will cost about $200 but the aggravation, backache and bitterness saved will be well worth it.

      3. lsaboe says:

        thank you for the strength. the cleaner, i’m not so sure. apparently, they don’t steam clean or shampoo the carpets. they just vacuum. *sigh*
        owell…just another example that brni is right…everything having to do w/my dad is cursed.

      4. jezebellydancer says:

        I agree, worth every penny. I know what we pay the professional service to come clean our office periodically and $200 sounds like a very good deal.
        I always found that Hall’s cough drops are the perfect shield for bad smells.

      5. lsaboe says:

        heh…halls. i’ve been using lavender EO, sniffing straight out of the bottle.
        and saving the breathing part for when i’m home (it’s dangerous to breath in dad’s place)

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