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Monday, September 24, 2012

Spirits in My Laundry


At times I am reminded of my parents. Even though my father passed in 2004 he is around me so much it’s as if we share intimate conversations daily about life. My mother passed in 2010 and brings feelings of affection when I need it most. I find myself doing mundane tasks and being swept away as I think of her ability to weather so many storms that have all blown away. How come I didn’t think Dot and George were so amazing when I was 10?

All of my youth I wanted to be loved by them. There was this simmering battle going on within the frame of our home as my mother tried the best she could to provide for us. Relying on slim earnings reduced even further by my father’s alcoholism brought her misery. He was a jolly drunk and rarely raised his voice to my seven siblings or me but he was the reason behind my mother’s frown. She on the other hand naturally became the disciplinarian and was quick to swat any child stepping out of line. But as the years went by and we all got older the conflict eased as sobriety replaced the bottle. I was now grown with children of my own and still felt robbed of my youth. How dare he put my daughter on his lap and read her stories and listen to her dreams. And my mother, who was always buried beneath a mountain of dirty dishes, suddenly found time to watch a dress-up show with her grandchildren? I carried this anger beneath the surface and it wreaked havoc in many relationships. I recognized this in myself and even though it was a bit scary I confronted them and it's no longer an issue.

I am fortunate enough to have had many walks and talks with them before their crossing and there are no words left unsaid. We spoke of everything and old wounds were released and our relationship only blossomed. I recognized that although they were my parents they were two people. Just ordinary people that had hopes and fears laughter and sorrow just like everyone else and for some reason I expected them to be more than this because they wore the title of “parents.”
They bring me little reminders every now and again. My father is cigarette smoke that follows me everywhere even in the rain. At first this put me off as I am a non-smoker and it really annoyed me, but now I smile and say “Hi dad…back again?”
My mother leaves me clothespins in the most unusual places. At first I would find them and think nothing of it…perhaps my spouse accidentally put it on the freshly wiped counter, but no. She brings them again and again and I am delighted to have made this connection. As a public speaker I often begin introducing myself,  “I was raised by a champion clothes hanger-upper who did four loads daily without a dryer.” I spoke with her as I always do when hanging up laundry after selling our home in and preparing to move.  I said, “Well mom I’m gonna miss our times here. I won’t be hanging up wash here anymore,” and just at that moment the linen bag of clothespins broke and fell into my hands. They looked like a bouquet of wooden flowers and I was so overcome I ran for my camera in tears. She was telling me you have ME don’t worry about the laundry!

Daily meditation can bring so many wonderful life lessons.  As I hear a song reminding me of my childhood the thought drifts with the tune and an image will appear. It’s my parents dancing cheek to cheek and the feeling of their love for each other. It’s a powerful love that remains and it has enabled me to look at my own storms and see that there truly is sunshine behind those clouds. I want to take this light and pass it to my own children. I want to be the song in their hearts. Will I one day be smoke or clothespins? Probably not, but I will teach them that although I wear the name parent I am very much like everyone else. I hope I dream…and I love.