When I first started cleaning, it was buildings and businesses. I started my very first cleaning job on March 6, 2006. How do I remember the date? I guess because it was time to get serious and grow up. My daughter had just turned 2.
I was hired to clean a church building every week. At first it was just a job to help me take care of my child and our financial needs. After a while it became much more than a building where my in-laws attended worship services; I began attending there as well. Some time later, my sister, her kids and my mom started going there.
It was a blessing to me to be there. I could go to the altar and pray when it was impressed upon my heart to do so, or sit down, grab a hymnal and sing a few songs (alone or with my sister when she would come there and help me clean).
I would talk with members of the congregation that would come in to take care of maintenance issues, got to know the preacher and his wife as they would come in or bond with two different ladies that printed the bulletins throughout the years. Over the course of seven years, those people went from being strangers to being family, even some of the best friends I’ve ever had.
There were times my mother-in-law would come in to practice a song on the piano she planned to play or work on a song she planned to sing the following Sunday. I always loved those days.
During that time I started picking up other one-time cleaning jobs. As the years went by, I began to clean for individuals on a regular basis in addition to cleaning the church building. These clients were at work so I had a lot of time to commune with the Lord as I did my job at their homes.
Then, several years back, the Lord started giving me widows and elderly people. It was quite the change to begin cleaning for someone while they were at home.
It was then that my job became very personal. When someone invites you in to their home week after week, for hours at a time, you get to know those people.
You dust pictures of their families, they tell you stories of items in their homes or simply tell you stories about themselves, their family and their past.
They tell you of things they once did but can longer do. They begin to tell you of their health issues, seen and unseen. One couple was waiting on a call from a doctor the first time I went to clean for them. The next day I had to go back to finish up. The call they had anxiously awaited for the previous day brought bad news. Bonding time was cut extremely short, but it was there. The thing I like is with most older people, they want it to be there. I learned that client’s passions quickly as I listened to stories as I dusted.
The ladies, they tend talk about their husbands that have passed away and their eyes well up with tears as they tell you how they long to be in Heaven with them.
Not only have I cleaned their homes, I’ve put flowers on their spouses graves for them or held their hand to steady them while they did it themselves.
I’ve asked for a couple to pray with me and they have. I’ve asked if I could pray with some and we have. I’ve cried to a few and I’ve cried with a few. I’ve told most of them I’m not just there to work for them, but I am there to work for Him (the Lord).
These clients, they become more than just people I work for- they become people I love. They become another piece of my heart.
I believe He sends me to these places. No, I know He sends me to these places and it’s humbling. It’s not that I have so much to offer. It’s not always about what I give or do. I don’t walk away empty-handed. I learn so much from all the people I’ve been blessed to work for- past and present.
Of all the things I’ve learned, what comes to mind the most lately (aside from love) is this:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 NKJV
The hard thing about the places the Lord has sent me the past several years is several people I’ve rejoiced with and wept with have gone on to be with the Lord (recently) and I wasn’t finished.
I wasn’t finished showing them pictures of my daughter growing up. I wasn’t finished hearing their laughs or joking around in our own special way. I wasn’t finished going to see them. I’m not finished with my life yet, there’s so much more to tell but I can’t tell them anymore.
I talked to another client of mine today that had called to let me know a lady I worked for for several years had passed away last night. I told her how many I’d lost within a year and she said, “My goodness. Bless your heart. You’re going to have to find some younger people to work for.”
After the past couple of weeks the thought did cross my mind that maybe I just needed to get out of the cleaning business. The selfish, childish part of me would rather not have to hurt with my job (with the exception of when arthritis begins to flare up). Although there’s great pain in my heart, I wouldn’t trade it for the world- the opportunity I’ve been given with these folks.
I know if these people were here, they would weep with me. Recently those family members I’ve seen week after week in those still photos have come to life and become the ones to take on the role of hugging me and weeping with me. For that I am grateful.
When someone I love passes away I say, “It’s not just that I lost someone I loved, I lost someone that loved me.” That is what hurts.
Thank You Father for teaching me how valuable time really is.
In loving memory of these special ladies and a fine gentleman:
Mr. H. Curtis 2/39-10/18
Mrs. Charlotte Breeden 2/34-3/19
Mrs. Betty Davis 5/41-7/19
Mrs. Roberta Robertson 7/26-7/19