When I was a child, growing up in a very modest neighborhood in Brazil, my grandmother lived with us. Never one to sit idle and watch the world go by, it seemed as though she was always busy . and that usually involved cleaning something. Whether it was the floors, the windows or the kitchen counters, no stain or spec of dirt ever escaped her attention. Cleaning was her passion and she made sure to communicate that to the younger members of the family.
One day, I remember, I asked my grandmother, “Why do other people have bigger homes than we do?”
Without blinking an eye, she immediately replied, “They may have bigger homes, but ours is the cleanest!”
Another phrase she liked to use was, “We may be poor, but we are clean.” To her, cleaning was the solution to all problems. When I was upset about something, for example, she would send me to wash the dishes, telling me that I would feel much better after I finished cleaning. And you know what? She was right. I did feel better knowing that I had done a good job.
My grandmother was also quick to praise a job well done. When I cleaned a window, for example, she would stand in front of it, her hands on her hips, frowning as she looked for the smallest spot I might have missed. When she couldn’t find one, she would break into a smile and say, “Shirley, even I couldn’t have gotten that widow any cleaner.”
That was when my own passion for cleaning was born, and it continues to this day.