Of course, dear reader, you have already thought of many exceptions to my generalizations—Grandmother Moses, Tom Brady, Yoyo Ma and many others, peaking at middle or old age. I am among those exceptions. I did not reach the zenith of my potential until two months ago, at age 82.
But in order to put everything in perspective I must first list what, until recently, I thought of as my peak performances.
• In 1963, at age 26, I blew the whistle on the U.S. Army, ending Fort Ord’s complicity with Monterey Peninsula’s racist landlords who refused to rent to minority soldiers.
• During the summer of 1965, at age 28, I dodged beatings by sheriffs and Ku Klux Klan thugs as I successfully aided in the enrollment of thirty Black kids in the all-white elementary school in Sharkey County, Mississippi.
• I can smile about being spit on by Kemper County, Mississippi, sheriff’s deputies as I entered the county courthouse in 1967, at age 30, to investigate voter discrimination. I succeeded in reviewing the records and finding written evidence of racial discrimination.
Please forgive me for reciting those ancient accomplishments. My purpose is not to seek your approval. You will see how those successes pale in comparison to my life’s high point that I am about to reveal. Read on.
In early March the coronavirus mounted its vicious assault upon our country, attacking on many fronts. Social distancing and stay in place requirements became de riguer. The pandemic’s medical and financial impact was and is deadly serious to millions of persons world over.
For the Gough household the impact amounts to what is, all things considered, really a minor inconvenience. My wife must work at home, but she rather enjoys that. I had to give up golfing two or three times a week and hanging out at Coles Coffee shop sipping lattes and reading the newspaper. These were truly minor detours from my meandering pre-pandemic life style.
However, when I learned that housekeepers were omitted from the list of essential workers, I was more than a little upset. MC and Bernice, our loyal hardworking housekeepers for the past 30 plus years, would not be allowed to clean our home every Friday morning. MC and Bernice are like family. We placed them on paid vacation and bid them adieu for the duration of the pandemic.
The weekly housekeeping chores fell to me.
Woe is me, I mourned as I contemplated sweeping, vacuuming, dusting and mopping every Friday. I soon discovered, however, that I had a knack for driving the vacuum cleaner, navigating the micro-fiber dust cloth, to which even invisible particles of dust, dander and hair magically cling, as I swished it over table tops, breakfronts, chair backs, dresser tops, mantels and everywhere that dust is wont to collect. Cleaning the stove top, windexing the glass doors of the double ovens, polishing the kitchen countertops, damp mopping the bathroom tile floors and the kitchen hardwood floor-- all of those tasks I quickly mastered and performed in a craftsman-like fashion. Indeed, at the end of my labors each Friday as I survey the product of my labor, a sparkling, clean home, I am overcome with pride for a job well done.
“So, you sneer, “that is the peak of your life, learning to sweep, mop and dust? Big deal!”
No, no, that is not the epitome. Read on, dear reader, please read on.
I had to clean the toilets.
I looked upon this challenge with disgust and repugnance. "Who am I to clean toilets? I who had defied the U.S. Army, confronted racist sheriffs, confronted the KKK in Mississippi—I am to get on my knees and clean the toilet?"
“Why yes,” replied my dear wife. “Who else? There is dignity and honor even in the lowliest of jobs.”
Rallied by the wisdom of her words, I bent to the task. I enlisted Amazon as my quartermaster. Amazon rose to the occasion and delivered the perfect weapon, a Clorox magic wand toilet brush. It came with long handle, not six feet long, but long enough to keep my hands out of the toilet bowl. Attached at the end of the handle was Clorox laden detachable brush, which after doing its intended job, was disposable by simply pressing a button, ejecting the brush into the trash can.
Armed with this magic wand, I attacked the downstairs toilet and scrubbed away with vigor. The brush released its sodium hypochlorite soldiers, bleached the bowl, vanquished all lurking toxic germs and delightfully colored the bowl water a lovely blue.
Bolstered by my success, I advanced upon the upstairs toilet, assaulting it with a fresh brush and renewed energy and enthusiasm. The toilet surrendered its stains without a fight.
Now, enthroned upon my sparkling commode, I, the Wizard of Ooze, reign from the zenith of my life.
©Kerry Gough 2020