There were few things that Larry and I retrieved when the sibling group cleaned-and-cleared out our parents home after my dad’s death. After all, I had wanted parents, not remnants of life and love lost.

My husband wanted my mom’s ironing board, a wistful ode to her thorough caring. She had starch in her character, no dirt under her nails. She fully extended herself on others’ behalf, obsessively giving to all. Precision was in her soul.

Magic WandImpulsively I salvaged Mother’s ‘Magic Wand: the original laundry stick, a product labelled with promises to ‘remove stubborn stains in seconds’ and ‘safe for all washable fabrics’ – and, as a bonus, it was made in the USA.

Its waxy white substance goes on clothing like a crayon, so it feels like playing or making art rather than laundry thoroughness. Of the 2.5 oz. contents, about .5 oz. are left. Enough for my lifetime of laundry, the time I have left.

I retained it in recollection of the times my parents come to visit from their Hoosier home to CA, when my mother insisted on doing our laundry, saying “It’s something I can do for you.” She slathered her love on us in this essential, tangible way.

For me, writing is a redemptive act. For my mother, I think, it was laundry: able to expunge yesterday’s grunge. Able to go through another day, loved.

P.S. Another quiet scene resounds in memory… on their frequent visits with us in our home – usually planned on weekends between trips to local or distant surround – my mother always asked to do our laundry along with hers and Dad’s accumulations of dirty clothes from said trips. My husband and I were both careerists, so the hell was very welcome. But I had to state, “Mother, you don’t have to do our laundry. You’re our guest.” She kept at her task and said, “It’s something I can DO for you.” Humble, sincere, dedicated, and true. Reason enough, a way to show love.