Me, GE, Whirlpool and Maytag

As a nanny, helping with infant twins and a four year old I learned to do laundry by rote. Then moved on to help with a family with infant triplets. Three loads a day seemed to be the minimum amount. I called it bringing order out of chaos. Doing laundry for our family of four was relatively simple after that.

Then our family dwindled to three and eventually just the two of us.

I found when my adult kids were behind in their household affairs or in crisis, I could always do laundry for them.

When my son faced a recent health crisis, on many levels there was little I could do to resolve the situation. But I could always do laundry. Load after load, seemingly endless amounts of underwear then britches, a few shirts, and bed linens. I can always do laundry.

The rhythm of sorting, loading, changing machines to dry the fabrics, then the meditative process of folding and sorting into piles. Yes, I can always do laundry.

Stain treatment is likely to involve the pent-up energy of other unresolved situations, but the stains eventually yield, if not totally, then enough to reflect my efforts.

Yes, I can always do laundry… and when I am too old or frail to do laundry, hopefully my children will do the laundry for me. May I not prove to be a burden to them or crisis for them to resolve.

I See You

The human soul anguishes over being invisible.

Gratefulness.org recently sent out this quote.

“The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance. ”   David Whyte

There are photos of my ninety-four year old mother-in-law as a child. In one she is one her father’s lap. In another holding a dog. Was it a pug? I do not remember the dog or its name but it makes me wonder what was important to her as a child?

I remember being amazed when I learned after many years of my marriage to her oldest son that her adult children were afraid of her. Most of these folks were married and had children of their own by then. She had a temper and ruled her family with the anger of a true matriarch.

Now at 94 she is just a shell of herself. Literally. She is skin and bones, under 90 pounds. At a recent oncology appointment she told her adult children, “I have no idea what he just said. Do what is best for me. I just want to go home.” Now she is in hospice care. She has to be willing to accept the help of others to get her meals, take her medications, have clean clothes and also to her horror to be bathed and get clean. She is quickly becoming intimate with disappearance. All that control and matriarchal power has been removed.

How will we inhabit our vulnerability? Will we be large, compassionate and courageous through our intimacy with disappearance?

As the adult child of an alcoholic I often felt invisible. It seemed I was often not heard, understood or accepted. That left lifetime scars of feeling invisible. I have to check myself, even now in my late 60’s, to be certain I am not transferring those feelings from childhood into my adult relationships, even my marriage. Inching towards death, as this quote reminds me, I will become intimate with true disappearance. No longer a being in the room with an opinion or issue to be dealt with, but gone, a memory to some, long forgotten by most.

God is called El Roi in the Old Testament, meaning the God Who Sees.[Genesis 16:13]  I was thrilled to learn that name, realizing God has seen me each and every stage of my life and continues to hold me close. He sees each of us and He cares. Will we trust Him as we continue to age and grow closer to the only exit plan guaranteed to each each of us? Death.

What are your plans for inhabiting your vulnerability and becoming intimate with disappearance? For one,  I need to print that quote and keep it before my eyes!