Joy’s Broom


I graduated from college. My parents moved from the place where I grew up to an airstrip. Were they trying to make a quick getaway?
The year I graduated from college, Mom and Dad “retired” into a new house. It was a small house, but it had two important features, an attached garage and a hangar in the backyard next to a grass airstrip. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a message for me in this change of address to an airstrip. (Lest you get the wrong idea about my humble roots, this was no elite flying/golfing community. This was a group of retiring old men, mostly “airplane poor”, who had hangars on a grass airstrip.)

Mom tolerated the hangar and the airstrip, but she was excited about the attached garage. Dad was excited about the hangar and the airstrip.

While the hangar was being built (over a period of years), my Dad’s metal fabrication and machine tools occupied the garage. A Cessna 170B occupied the cement pad immediately outside the garage door, and the cars parked nearby—in the mud.

Finally the much awaited day came when the hangar was finished and Mom could boot Dad out of her garage. He moved his machinery out of the garage. The 170 was transferred to a position of privilege inside the hangar itself. Soon Mom would be able to park her car inside the garage, but first the garage needed a thorough cleaning.

Dad went about cleaning out the garage diligently, leaving no sharp metal shavings that could puncture car tires. Pressure washing the floor. Sweeping up all the dirt and dust.

All was well until one day when Mom started looking for her broom to sweep the kitchen floor.

“Have you seen my broom?” she asked of no one in particular.

She looked in the living room closet, in the bed room, finally in the laundry section of the garage, and then she spotted it. Her prized kitchen broom was resting against the garage wall, bristles spread eagle, covered in oil and grime.

“I can’t believe he used my good broom to sweep the garage…etc…”

She grabbed her pocket book and drove into town to the store where she purchased a new kitchen broom and a permanent marker.

She returned home with her broom and marker, opening the garage door with great satisfaction. (“Grandma” later replied “automatic garage door opener”, when interviewed by her youngest grandson for a school history project about what she thought the greatest invention was during her life.) She parked her car just outside the back door, finally getting to use the garage for its intended purpose.

Once in the kitchen she penned, in her immaculate print, “Joy’s Broom” down the broom handle. Then she went about her homemaking tasks for the day.

At dinner, after Dad was seated at the small kitchen table, she grabbed the broom.

“Tony, this is a kitchen broom.” She wielded the broom, holding it in the air as she lectured. “It is my good broom. It is not to be used to sweep out the garage OR the hangar. To remind you I have labeled it ‘Joy’s Broom’.”

“Uh huh.” My dad said looking up and smiling, quickly returning to his dinner. Mom wasn’t really sure if he had gotten the message.

A couple of days later she went to retrieve her broom and couldn’t find it. In a huff she opened the back door to the garage, and sure enough, there was her broom leaning against the garage wall.

And Dad had been messing with it, for the broom handle now read:

“Joy’s broom. Not to exceed 200 mph or 1,500 feet AGL.”

©2011 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

5 thoughts on “Joy’s Broom

  1. LOVE this story! It reminded me of when my husband was manager of a bank branch close to the town where my mother lived–she popped into the branch to visit him one day while she was in the city for appointments, and when Gary’s staff member told him that his mother-in-law was waiting to see him, he replied, “Really? Where did she park her broom?”
    The staff member was appalled that he would say this within earshot of Mom, but of course Mom thought this was hilarious–that was the sort of relationship they shared. Kind of like every year when he made sure that Santa put an onion and a potato in her stocking–but that’s a story for another day…
    Good story, Michelle–thanks for a Monday morning chuckle.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. And, Mom loved that broom. Mom certainly bragged to everyone about what Dad wrote on it! I don’t know if Dad still has it around or not. I’ll have to ask him.

    1. I remember the parking sign. Do you still have the broom by any chance? Or for that matter the varnished rolling pin?

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