driving through mid afternoon traffic, a call comes in from her husband wondering if i will be seeing mom today. we had set a plan that morning, easily forgotten, that i would be there by 1:30PM, visit and take her to her 3:00PM appointment. i am halfway there. i’m told i don’t need to go.
when she opened the apartment door i was greeted with a gleeful gasp, utter surprise and a rush of fresh air because all the windows were open. her arms were full of white 800 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. her tiny IKEA countertop ironing board was set up on the kitchen island and she was trying to iron out the wrinkled, monogramed hem of the sheet. the little balcony had her drying rack set up, holding her nightgowns and socks, warming in the sun. the smell of fresh sheets and sunshine and clean clothes took me back to the days of wooden pins and the clothesline attached to the garage. that iron pole along with a sloping roofline was part of my escape route after dark as a teenager.
she lost interest in ironing and went to watch charlie rose. i picked up the iron to finished the hem and three pillow cases. she wandered out, leaned up against the counter and watched. she found the word “deja vu” and talked about being a little girl watching her mother iron with auntie ing. she wondered if it was kind of a visitation. hmmmm
we reminisced about her mother anga and auntie ing ~ about her sisters and growing up in a small town. we made the bed, taut enough that a nickel would bounce and with hospital corners perfectly tucked. while i fluffed the pillows she sat in her chair with the sunlight falling across her face. when i sat on the footstool near her i took her picture with my phone. she wanted to take my picture and when she saw it she said, “you look just like great esther when she was 100 years old.” oh, how hard she laughed and laughed. almost to the point of tears.
she was so tender in her memories. she searched for words and we finally found the word “ancestor.” she called it a ‘soft and gentle’ word as she sensed those women, gone before us, changing their sheets each week and hanging their clean laundry in the sun.