I’ve been scrubbing, polishing, re-organizing and spiffing up everything in our house.

Company’s coming, as we used to say when I was a child.

Back in those days, when relatives and other guests were about to arrive from out of state, my mother would scrub and wax floors, replace curtains, air out rooms and wash, air dry and iron sheets and bedspreads.

The house was all in an uproar, driving my father about crazy, but the excitement was palpable at the anticipation of new faces arriving with stories, laughter and late-night discussions. And, of course, my mother’s special pastries, breads and cakes.

I am my mother’s daughter, as my husband likes to remind me often.

When I cook, I can scatter dishes, utensils and baking ingredients over the kitchen counters. And when I know company’s coming, I tear through the house, dusting, polishing furniture, vacuuming and washing floors.

It’s an activity Phil dreads, and like clockwork, on the hour, I can expect to hear his plaintive cry: “Can’t you take a break now?”

If I’m not in too much of a hurry, I’ll emerge from the rubble long enough to make a quick lunch or sit for a minute, but usually I’m champing at the bit to get back at it.

When I start a job, I like to finish it, all in one swoop.

My mother was like that, when we were growing up. I remember a high school friend calling one day while my mother was getting ready for work. I asked him if he was going to come over and visit.

“No way,” he said. “Not until your mother is gone. She’ll run me over!”

As a nurse, my mother worked late shifts, sometimes getting home at midnight or two o’clock in the morning. It was not unusual to wake up in the middle of the night to find her scrubbing a floor or baking chocolate bit cookies.

I’m sure that’s where I get my nocturnal penchant, a habit I’ve tempered over the years, especially since being married.

But occasionally I get that late-night burst of energy and want to bake something, or clean a closet or worse, vacuum — an activity that absolutely drives Phil nuts.

Recently, when I was vacuuming at 1 a.m. in anticipation of next-day guests, he awoke with a start, walked out to the dining room, looked at me askance, squinting and declared: “What is wrong with you?”

I admit my behavior is sometimes a little over the top, but when you’ve got it in your blood, it’s not so easy to shuffle off.

Besides, I think a burst of energy, put to good use, is healthy, both physically and mentally. Often I find myself working through important issues as I lift and drag, scour and scrub, and wield the vacuum cleaner wand.

And so it has been this week, as we prepare for a visit from my old college friends we see only once a year.

Nick and his wife, Barb, will come from Massachusetts; Kim and her husband, Otis, from New Hampshire.

I met Kim and Nick about 35 years ago. Nick, when he and I were reporters at our college newspaper in Connecticut, and Kim when she and I lived on the same floor of the former Hartford Seminary, which housed students from various colleges. Kim was a dance student at the Hartford Conservatory; Nick and I were both majoring in English at University of Hartford.

We were part of a small circle of friends who loved theater, music, dance, books, art, politics — and all things humorous.

Of that circle of friends, only we three have managed to stay in touch over the years. There were times we did not see each other for long periods, but we have made it a point these last several years to visit once a year.

And each time, it’s like no time has passed at all.

They are easy guests, and I know I really needn’t go crazy with preparations.

But if anyone deserves the best, they do. And I am my mother’s daughter, after all.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 23 years. Her column appears here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]


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