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I FAILED LAUNDRY

What a cruel awakening it was to learn I failed at a job I had been doing for more than sixty years.


As a pre-teen, my family quietly expressed approval as I carried loads of wet sheets and towels from our wringer washer to the clothesline in the fenced yard of our suburban home. They trusted me to fold and return the dried laundry without incident. I gave myself a B+.


While residing in a college dormitory, my laundry routine appeared to be in line with my peers. True, I only hauled my dirty laundry to the on-site facility and carried the dried loads back to my room, but I still had to iron most things. Maybe only a C.


In the early 1960s, as a young bride, I managed to adjust to each new piece of laundry equipment as we moved from apartments to our first and second homes. Having an automatic washer and dryer was a welcome learning curve. There was still a need to fold, iron, and carefully store or hang clothing and linens. My husband never complained. I felt as if I had earned an above-average grade.


When our daughter came along, the volume increased, including diapers. Yes, we still used cloth diapers in 1969, even while hurling in space toward the first moon landing. Although time-consuming and tiring, we always had clean clothing and household goods. My mental report card told me I was still in the advanced reading group.


Textile advancement was rapid and welcome in the last quarter of the twentieth century. The introduction of artificial fibers made most garments indeed wash and wear. The old ironing board that had traveled with me to college and back became first another clutter collector and finally an orphan in the garage.


Upon his return from the Navy, my son-in-law had developed attention to the details of handling laundry most efficiently. I learned labor-saving shortcuts from him like rapid removal of items from the drier, folding, and hanging to avoid wrinkles. Not to brag, but in my seventies, I was newly proud of my skill.


To my chagrin, I have recently learned that I am missing the most crucial element of laundry, having fun.


The joyful folks who have entered my life via the airwaves have the look of euphoria as they wrap themselves in clean sheets and towels, breathing deeply of the intoxicating aroma and singing the praises of various products that have enhanced their existence. They perform stage-worthy pirouettes and pleas, all the while beaming with a secret smile indicating they have reached the nirvana of laundry land.


So this week, I gave it a try. Carefully separating the darks from the lights, transferring the loads from the washer, and waiting for the dryer buzzer, I hummed a favorite tune. I forced my arthritic limbs to sashayed from room to room, delivering my proudly completed task.


I then leaned over my husband's shoulder and lightly kissed him while smiling.


"What are you doing," he asked.


"Trying to make laundry fun," I chuckled.


He returned my smile with, "Well, that's a good start."





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