Today was laundry day and I had a ton of it to conquer. Truth be told, I really dislike doing it at all. I forget to take the clothes out before they wrinkle and other times they’ve ended up needing a rewash because I forgot they were even in there. It’s a lot like selective hearing; but in my case it’s actually selective memory. So as I sit here, listening to the lazy drum of the dryer, eyes sluggishly drooping, I am slowly lulled into a memory of Mama.
I guess it’s probably more practical for the parents of four kids to teach them early on to fend for themselves. That’s exactly how I became a launderer early on in my life. I remember the exact moment that I was forced into child labor. I believe it went something like this, “Dad, I need these pants cleaned.” Well, that’s all it took. I realized my fatal error when the corner of the newspaper crawled down and Dad’s eyes met mine. The words tumbled out of his mouth like the laundry I was about to have to start washing. His response was clean and sharp and cut straight through me, “Well, I guess it’s about time you learned.” I begrudgingly dragged my feet and dingy pair of jeans into the laundry room and watch as Dad proceeded with a step by step tutorial of how to clean my clothes. That was it. That’s all she wrote. From then on, I took care of my own washing.
Now, due to the fact that so many of us were using the same washer and dryer, things tended to get stuck here and lost there. Things I know I put into that machine sometimes never came out. That brings me back to my Mama memory. In my early years of higher education it just so happened that my dear, sweet Dad was footin’ the bill for all four of his kids to attend college. If that wasn’t stressful enough, Mom had decided to go back for her Master’s Degree as well. So there he was paying for five family members to grow their curiosity and enrich their intelligence.
When it finally came time for Mom to graduate, you better believe she had big plans to walk in the ceremony and celebrate like a person should who had just relinquished any form of a personal life for two plus years. So we all rushed home to blow on the horns and yell her praises. I remember how proud we all were of her and what she had accomplished. Eager for her exceptional night, we hastily ran around the house getting ready for the big commencement ceremony. Somewhere along the way, I managed to misplace my underwear and asked if anyone had dragged them out of that black hole of a dryer we had. Alas, they were never to be found.
That is until Mom, poised and ready to take a photo for the local newspaper, felt something tugging down her sleeve. As she shook her arm the delicate weight of a small unrecognizable object kept bouncing about until finally falling to the ground in a small blue heap. Sure enough, it was my bright blue panties! It just so happens that yelling out, “Hey, those are my blue panties I’ve been looking for all night,” in the middle of a large crowd is a sure way to gain attention and create an unwarranted scene.
One of the things I loved most about Mom was her fearlessness. In the midst of all of this hoopla, she bent down, picked up the panties, held them up in front of her and donned a big smile for the camera. Of course, by then, everyone and anyone in the surrounding area were in on the joke and laughing hysterically. Sure enough, the next day, when we opened up the newspaper, there was Mama, smiling back at us from the printed paper sporting her cap and gown and a newly discovered pair of bright blue panties. It was a proud time for us all! Now that’s the way to make a moment truly memorable.