Aunt Estella was a very routine oriented, excessively neat, Christian woman. I have a story that illustrates all three of these characteristics. When she had visitors who stayed overnight, she would fret until they left. It was when they left Sunday evening that bothered her most. She would fret over the “soiled” bedding until after midnight. She hated to have the dirty linen in her house.
She would wait and stay awake until a few minutes after the clock struck twelve before she began stripping the bed. She would carry them to the basement and put them in the washing machine. She couldn’t do it ant sooner, because it was Sunday and she couldn’t do work on the “day of rest” and she certainly could not have dirty linens in her house overnight. Hanging them outside as weather permitted or tossing them in the dryer could wait until morning.
I can share another tale about her excessive neatness and her overwhelming need to have things clean, occurred one winter day. It was a cold day. She thought that her windows were dirty and that she needed to clean them. She gathered the cleaning solution, rags, and her ladder and carried them to a spot at the backside her house.
The ground was frozen and icy but that didn’t deter her. Those windows were dirty, they needed washed and she was going to clean them. She leaned the ladder against the wall of her house. The backside of her house was three stories; the basement, first floor, and the top floor of bedrooms. As she climbed near the top of the ladder, the bottom slipped on the ice and she tumbled down. She broke her arm. Crumpled on the ground behind her home, she had a choice to make; bear the pain and drag herself to the front of her house where she could be seen or to stay there, succumb to hypothermia, and die. She cradled her arm and made it into her house to call for an ambulance.
Her desire to clean and wax extended to her front porch stoop. Her front concrete stoop was coated with dark green enamel paint, which was slippery enough, but Estella would wash and wax them, making the stairs as slick as ice.
When she would finish cooking, after eating, she would immediately wash the dishes. Each time, she would wipe the whole counter and then would wax it as well.
She had a pair of parakeets until she decided that they made too much dirt. She didn’t replace them when they died, but cleaned and kept the cage. Filling it with silk flowers, the cage on its stand dominated a corner of her dining room.
The final story that shows how clean that she liked her house talks about her floors. The rooms were either carpeted or linoleum tiled. She covered the heavy traffic pathways with home braided and woven rag rugs. The rugs on the waxed tile areas were slippery, but the thing that she did to put it over the top; she covered each of the woven rag rugs with newspapers to keep the braided rugs clean. She would change the papers when they became worn, torn, or soiled.