As part of my settling into what the owners call the pine house, this morning I have been doing something I rarely do. Iron more than one thing at a time rather than only as needed. Early this morning I started to iron a whole stack of freshly unpacked and washed linens - many from my grandmother, aunts, great-aunts and even from my great-grandmother; some from antique shops. Mostly the product of many evenings together in Spencer’s Island but also including the elegant table linens which dressed the dining room of my mother’s parents in New Jersey, complete with candelabra each night. It feels so luxe to be preparing them for the holidays here in November. I doubt I have ever done that!
I cannot plug in an iron without thinking of my mother. Not known for her housekeeping, she was known for having a family that had ironed clothes. Mid-afternoon was her time to iron. After school. The table would go up in the master bedroom, she would assemble the iron, spray bottle, and starch. I would lie on my stomach on the bed with the day’s ironing stacked higher than me. And I would talk and listen as the moist clothes would be extracted from the pile. There was a smell that would come when the heat hit the cotton. Kind of like a dry cleaning smell. I don’t know because I can’t reproduce that smell when I iron. It only lives in my memory.
I wasn’t particularly close to my mother as a child. I really couldn’t understand her and how and why she was related to me in this world. She was quite nice but, in general, I avoided her like the plague, preferring to be pretty much outside. Yet, I remember countless times, both while living in Oromocto and Halifax, where I voluntarily spent time with my mother as she ironed. We talked. The whole time. About what, I have no clue.
I was wondering what drew me to these afternoons with Dorin as I was ironing earlier this morning. My mother loved to iron. She said so many times. So, it makes sense, this was her happy place. Maybe she was different there. And perhaps I just liked being around her when she was happy.
I never thought about how my mom felt about our afternoons. It’s likely I was part of what brought her happiness as she ironed. I hope so.
The blessing is multiplied as remembering her ironing brought me happiness as I ironed this day.