I grew up in a family that was straight out of a Fifties television show. My sister was the proverbial good girl and a promising ballerina, I was the mischievous little brother, my dad was a businessman who wore a suit to work each day, and my mom was a homemaker-her job was managing the house and us. Just like June Cleaver and Donna Reed, Mom dressed up to stay home, and no outfit was complete without the appropriate apron. There were different aprons for kitchen use, holidays and special occasions, but it was her clothespin apron that was my favorite.
Every Monday morning, Mom did laundry in an agitator washer with a wringer on the top. As each piece of sopping wet clothing was cranked through the wringer, it fell into a fabric-lined wooden bushel basket, and when the basket was full, she’d carry it out to the backyard clothesline. Between the clothes, linens and towels, she made several trips, and being a little terror, I’d have to go back and forth with her so she could keep an eye on me.
Seated on the porch steps, I’d watch her walk the length of the wire clotheslines and clean each one with a damp rag. Then she’d return to the basket and start hanging the laundry, using these one-piece wooden clothespins that she carried in the pocket of her apron. I’d watch her hang one basket and then the next, and her apron pocket never ran out of clothespins. I was about four years old, and I thought her washday apron was magical. There is such innocence to my thinking her apron could endlessly dispense clothespins, and I love that she never tried to educate me to the truth.
Mom’s Monday washday ritual is one of my fondest childhood memories, and I think it’s because wrapped up in that magical apron notion was also this sense of feeling safe under her watchful eye.
When my mom turned eighty-four, I decided to move her out of an old-age facility and into my apartment. I took care of her, kept her safe. She once did the same for me, and it was my turn to return the favor and the love. It’s true that nothing in life prepares you to be your parent’s caretaker, but it’s what you do when you have to.
"Just like June Cleaver and Donna Reed, Mom dressed up to stay home, and no outfit was complete without the appropriate apron." ~ Ronnie Crawford
Text © EllynAnne Geisel