Sweep … then mop

A number of years ago, we had friends stationed here with Air Force when he received orders for overseas deployment. She had schizophrenia. I volunteered to keep an eye on her while he was gone. I dearly loved Tina.

One day I went to visit her on base. The house was a wreck. She was hearing voices again. Long story short: she had run out of meds five days before. I helped her get to the doctor and get more meds.  

I also helped her clean the house.  

She got out a mop and started on the floors. I could see a ring of mud around the walls and rugs. I stopped her. “Tina, sweetie, we need to sweep first then mop. Otherwise you will just be moving wet dirt around.”

Her response, “oh! No one has ever taught me how to clean! Sweep …. Then mop! That’s the ticket!” She did a great job cleaning.  

I checked on her almost weekly. Others helped as well. I was glad when her husband came home. It was a long seven months. We lost contact after they moved. I have wondered what happened with her. I pray she is well. I fear she is not. 

“Sweep…then mop” has become a mantra for my husband and me. Sometimes it’s the simple things that matter. And we can help others by doing and teaching these simple things. Don’t assume others know the basics, be willing to model and teach and work with those needing your help.  

Today on FB my husband posted, “Process is essential. Sweep…then mop.”

He and his friends mentioned a few more examples:

  • Pillage then burn.
  • Think then speak. 
  • Train then transform.
  • Tear down then rebuild. 
  • Determine wind direction then pee.
  • Wax on, wax off.
  • Rehearse then perform.
  • Measure then cut. 
  • Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally (math order of operations)

Can you think of more examples of where process is essential?  

I thought of “Edit then publish”.



I write about my life, my journey, my family, and my faith. I am wife to one, mom to seven with one in heaven, and grandmother to many. I am also full-time caregiver to my stepmom E who suffers from dementia due to Alzheimer’s. In my spare time I like to read, travel, crochet, bike, and play with our black pug Molly.

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