There is no higher form of praise from my mother than that one word. “Reluciente.” It’s a great word. It goes beyond “clean” or “shiny”. It connotes an immaculate nature that radiates light. If my girls are well dressed in ironed clothing with spotless shoes “están relucientes”. If the windows are free of splatter marks and pollen, “relucen”. When the floors are so clean that light bounces off them and you can see there’s no dust or dirt… well, you get my drift.
My mother’s house is RELUCIENTE. It is my parent’s home, but it’s my mother’s house. She knows every square inch of it. She senses where dirt might be hiding and focuses in on it like a laser. BZAP! The “alféizares” are dusted every day. The “calefacciones” are wiped down – top, middle and bottom fins – once a week. The refrigerator is pulled away from the kitchen wall once a month. You can try to run in my mother’s house, but you cannot hide, Dirt.
Dirt is the enemy. Dirt is personified. Dirt is not an object but a presence. It lurks, it taunts and it is eternal. Each day, my mother’s home is a battleground of light vs. darkness, good vs. evil, dirt vs. clean. The discovery of a new hiding place for dirt is something to be celebrated. ¨No te lo vas a creer. ¡Hoy abrí la tapa de ¨insert location or object here¨ y encontré polvo!¨ We all know what happened to that sorry dust. The angels of biblical times would not have been more effective in eradicating it than my mother. My mother is St. George and dirt is the dragon.
The hunt for dirt is not limited to inside my parent´s four walls. Oh no. Weather permitting, my mother opens her door every morning and heads out with her ¨escoba¨. ¨¿Que dirán los vecinos? Pensarán que estoy loca.¨ In sweeping the sidewalk in front of her home, she battles pollution from school buses, delivery trucks and cars, litter from passersby and just plain ¨tierra.¨ You know, tierra, the dirt that comes from earth. That´s good dirt, mind you, outside the home under the plants… where it belongs. But migrate from beyond that little patch of grass between the driveway and the walkway and my mother OWNS that dirt. Stray to the entrance area in front of the door and it´s a goner. In her hands, that escoba is mightier than St. George´s sword.
My mother has a cleaning lady that comes once a week and she cleans WITH her, side by side. ¨Es la única manera de saber que está limpiando de verdad.¨ But she is nice about it, demanding but kind, and she is not above doing anything she asks the cleaning lady to do herself. She does not have a cleaning lady because she is above cleaning. She has a cleaning lady because there are just some things she can no longer physically do.
Reluciente. What else is reluciente? My mother is reluciente. She is real. She does what she advises my sister and I to do. She walks the walk. She is genuine, she is my role model and she is reluciente, inside and out.