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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.

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