In the middle of the night last night, I heard a motor. At first, I thought the noise must be coming from a bathroom exhaust fan. I checked the fans, and neither of them was running.

On the way back to bed, I stopped by the heating system’s air intake and listened for the blower motor. Yes, that must be it. Or maybe not. A friend of ours told us the noise comes from the local crematorium, which runs at night. 

I gave up solving the riddle, put in foam earplugs, got back in bed, and fell asleep. 

I woke up at 6:30, two hours later than usual. I had overworked myself the previous day getting ready for our annual Christmas lunch with my stepson, his family, and two other guests. I had spent the day making the house perfect the same way I used to prepare our house on Hood St. in Dallas for one of my mother’s Sunday afternoon art gallery openings. 

My parents and I would come home from church on Sunday, eat lunch, and start preparing the house. My father would say “Now hear this. All hands man your battle stations,” and he and I would begin straightening things up.

Today, I carry out his order in my head. I also follow my mother’s dictum to pick up every scrap of paper and leaves in the yard. “It takes only one piece of white paper to ruin the whole lawn,” she would say. “Make it look as if somebody cared.” 

I cared two days ago. I wanted the house to look clean and inviting when the guests came over. But striving for perfection is exhausting, and I paid the price for it the next day. By last night, I was so worn out, not even a crematorium motor could keep me awake.

4 thoughts on “Motor

  1. Good to get this on Christmas morning. Love it, thanks. I admire your succinctness in telling these stories and makes me think I am too prolix. It also reminds me of something I was pondering recently (re: my memoir): how did our families find the Unitarian Church and who went first? My recollection is that it was nearly simultaneous, circa 8th grade? Same with St. Mark’s. I entered in 7th grade after my parents saw an ad in the paper announcing scholarships. And you came in 8th grade, which seems odd only in that I would think your mom would have known about St. Mark’s ahead of us.



    1. Pardon the way overdue reply. My parents found the church when I was very young, even before they met your parents. The reason I waited until 8th grade to enter St. Mark’s is that my grade school went through 7th grade, and I stayed so I could “graduate” with my classmates. Also, my parents weren’t sure they could afford St. Mark’s. I talked the school up because of the stories I was hearing about it from you and Jerry.


  2. How ironic that, in the dead of night, you, the living, are kept awake by a motor noise coming from a crematorium, possibly. Thank God for ear plugs. I loved reading about the preparation it took to receive guests in the past and guests in the Christmas present.

    Sent from my iPad



    1. I find our friend’s crematorium conjecture suspect. On the other hand, she might be right. Concerning guests, you can tell that preparing for them is in my blood. It also motivates me to complete home repairs.

      Right now, I am repairing my failure to reply to your and other readers’ comments about my blog posts. Thanks for being a loyal subscriber.e


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