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In 1947, my first apartment was two rooms and bath at 210 South 49th Street in West Philadelphia. I tried hard to keep up with the dusting, but at 18 years old with a five and a half day work week, I frequently lost the dust race. 

My second apartment, a year later, was in Bala Cynwyd just across City Line Avenue from Philly. This was a bigger place with two bedrooms, a large living room and kitchen. To sum up my housekeeping prowess, a family member referred to the apartment as a “pig sty.” 

In 1950, I purchased a “tick tacky” house in a development – Pennsylvania’s answer to New York’s Leavittown. Our telephone was a community phone booth in the center of the development. By then, I had a dog whose first act to punish me for leaving him alone while I went to work was ripping into the back of my sofa with his teeth and strewing the contents all over the house. 

And so it went; I made several more moves, remarried in 1962 and settled in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. There we purchased a house built in 1841 which had been empty for 40 years and needed a great deal of restoration. The craftsman we hired did a spectacular job and turned the old house into a show place.

Then the children arrived and I spent more time at home determined to be a star housekeeper. I never knew when my husband, the innkeeper, might bring guests for the extra room on the third floor of the house we used for overflow when the inn was full. I made myself a schedule which specified the day of the week I was to dust and vacuum each room, as well as mop the kitchen and playroom floors. Boy, had I come a long way from 210 South 49th Street! Even my mother, a big critic of my dusting abilities, told me to slow down.

Recently I found the following and, Dear Readers, it was too good not to share!

“Dust if You Must”
(Author Unknown)

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
To paint a picture or write a letter,
Bake a cake or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there’s not much time
With rivers to swim and mountains to climb;
Music to hear and books to read;
Friends to cherish and a life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
With the sun in your eyes and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind
Old age will come and it’s not kind;
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.

Remember, a house becomes a home when you can write “I love you” in the dust on the furniture. . .
 

Mary Lou Fuller

Mary Lou Fuller is the author of a collection of anecdotes that reflect her views on aging with humor.

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