Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Wash the Dishes: Memory and Legacy

We washed. We dried. We put away.

This was the 2-3 times daily ritual of the dishes, led by a grandchild, always participated in by Nana.

Oh, she had a dishwasher, but rarely did she use it except for the big holiday meals and whenever else she got a hankering for its sanitizing power. Nana seemed to prefer the handwashing.

Or maybe she just preferred the time with her grandchildren, all working together, suds and dishtowels, the stool that made me tall enough to join in, plunging my hands into the warm water filling that yellow, porcelain sink.

This is one of my sharpest, most distinct memories with Nana. We worked together, sometimes after breakfast, lunch and dinner, before plenty of game-playing, bowling or a trip to the Bingo hall, where we read our own books while they played (or, best of all, when she snuck us one of her Bingo cards where, if we won, she yelled "Bingo!" for us since, after all, we were under 18). We went to the movies, to the mall, to the park. We spent countless nights over at her house, joining Pop's ritual watching of Wheel of Fortune after an early dinner.

Before the meal that dirtied the dishes, there were leaves. Yes, the dreaded leaves. And pine straw.

We gathered up the needed supplies - gloves, rakes, trash bags, the wheelbarrow from the shed - and knew that you had to stoop low enough to get all the leaves from under the bushes or Pop would surely notice and make you go back and get them later. We knew not to stop into Ms. Jones' yard lest she see you on her property and give you the evil eye.

We worked together a lot.

And you know, these times were good to us. Could it be that now, because of those dishes and leaves, I understand the joy and camaraderie of working alongside those you love ? When Susan and I spend hours weeding in the garden, don't we have some of the best and often unexpected conversations there?

My Nana gave this to me; this is her legacy. She taught us work. She taught us togetherness. She showed us family.

No comments: