Stephanie liked to cook, and I liked washing the dishes, so those were our primary chores. All the other household work was split approximately 50/50, for the first ten or twelve years of our marriage. I'm a slob and Steph was, I’d say, a mid-level housekeeper, so things were never immaculate in our apartment (like they always are at her parents' home). But we also never descended to the depths of debris (as routinely found in my parents' home, most of my siblings' homes, and always in my apartment, before Steph came along).
Once every six months or so, Stephanie and/or I would go on a cleaning kick, get the apartment super-clean and glistening, and we'd say, "Gosh, this place isn't half bad. We should keep it clean like this all the time." But we never did.
Things got messier, of course, when Stephanie could no longer walk. After that, cooking became the only chore she could do, and the only chore she really wanted to do. Of course, cooking was much more difficult than it had been.
If you'd like the briefest approximation of the difficulties, try opening the fridge from a chair some time, and taking out a carton of milk, or a half dozen eggs. After that, unless you have a wheelchair handy, you'll have to just imagine the challenge of carrying the milk and eggs in your lap while using both hands to roll the wheelchair's wheels toward the counter. And of course, since you're sitting instead of standing, the counter won't be at a comfortable height. We strung an extension cord across the counter, because she couldn't reach the wall outlet to plug in the egg beater or blender. Et cetera, et cetera; absolutely everything about prepping a meal was much, much more difficult than it had ever been before. Making a good dinner became much more difficult, but Steph did it every night.
All the other household chores fell to me, though, and as already confessed, I'm a slob. So for the last 6-8 years of her life, Steph lived in a messier home than before, and she never complained about it. Once every year or two, I'd go on a cleaning kick and get the place fairly clean, but generally, life was dusty. And with Stephanie gone, I've had next to no interest in keeping the place clean or uncluttered.
This weekend, for no discernible reason, I've been on a cleaning kick. That's why I haven't written as much as usual the past few days, but trust me, I still have a thousand essays about Stephanie that I'm itching to write. Instead I've been sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and even scrubbing the accumulated grime off the stove-top.
Looking around the apartment now, standing on a clean carpet, snacking in a tidy kitchen, and breathing the annoying scent of Pine-Sol, Stephanie's voice is almost audible to me. And you know what she's saying? "Gosh, this place isn't half bad. We should keep it clean like this all the time."