– Monday Muse –
Dear One, get a look at that pinafore! What makes the huge ruffles stand up like that? Starch, and a good pressing. Starch? Pressing? Pressing is another word for ironing. Ironing? Ironing is the process of sliding a hot iron back and forth to remove wrinkles from fabric. I’ve heard of that. The photo must date back to the stone age…oh, I guess not – I can see a car in the background.
The photo of my brother and me dates back to 1950. Did you notice the glossy polished shoes, the bleached shoe laces? Okay, I don’t get this? But it’s a Monday Muse, so there’s a point here somewhere, right? There is. You don’t have some crazy idea of enticing me into ironing, do you? I hadn’t thought of that, and there are only a few articles which need ironing these days, but I do like to iron. I guess, it’s a throw back from young adulthood. Enough of this; on with the essay.
One 1970-ish Sunday morning, when we were staying the weekend at my parent’s home in McBain, my mother walked into the kitchen and commented on the row of five pairs of children’s shoes all shined and ready for church. She mentioned the fact that she had done the same thing for me, and my siblings. I replied, “Yes, I learned this from you.” She questioned, “And do you know where I learned to do that? I learned it from your Aunt Lavina.” Sharon and Reggie, my cousins, were always shiny clean. Reggie’s hair was freshly cut, Sharon’s hair was in ringlets, and their clothes were starched and pressed. Mom added, “If not for your Aunt Lavina, I would have never learned to care for you kids like I did. When I grew up, I seldom wore anything but ill-fitting clothes, and old shoes that had been handed-down multiple times.”
“You know Mom, the kids were asked a strange question from one of the fathers in our new neighborhood. He asked if their mother had washcloths sticking out of the ends of her arms? That is a result of your influence, too.”
“Well surely he sees them dirty too?”
“Oh yes, he does. I have enough stained play clothes to prove that.”
As the toddler, preschool, and early elementary years unfolded, (there was less than six years from youngest to oldest), I learned to be grateful to Aunt Lavina as well. For her example offered a blessing that I had not anticipated. Almost everywhere that we took our young family, the children were appreciated. Sweet comments were often made directly to them. Their arrival was usually welcomed, and enjoyed by friends, family and strangers alike. No one can know the difference it made in their young lives, but I suspect it was huge.
When I come across dirty, haphazardly dressed, ill-cared for children, my heart goes out to them. With only a little preparation, the children could be receiving tender glances, smiles of admiration, and maybe kind words, instead of the common place rejection that many unkept children receive.
“Whoever welcomes one of these little children
in my name welcomes me…” Mark 9:37a
As a kid, I remember, especially on hot summer days, getting a last minute hair brushing, and spit-shine, just after Dad had parked the car. The crazy thing was, I never minded it. Now, it kind of grosses me out. Years later, for my kids, I carried a damp wash cloth in a plastic, sandwich bag, but sometimes I had to resort to my mother’s old spit-shine. My kids did not like it much.
“A loving gift is the present of presenting children presentable.”
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