I was thinking tonight, as I placed an overflowing amount of towels in the washer, how good we really have it. I know, I know, the topic isn’t new, but can you really see yourself washing clothes with a wash-board and pail? Can you really see yourself wringing out pants and shirts until your knuckles were white — for hours? How about this, can you see yourself raising 12 kids? No? me neither.
Our grandparents had guts.
The common theme amongst the 70, 80 and 90 year olds is that ‘kid’s these days don’t know how good they got it.’
And you know what? they’re abso-fucking-lutely right. I cannot imagine being in my 20 year old grandmother’s shoes today. I’m perfectly comfortable sitting here at my laptop, pissing away an hour on facebook while my laundry is done for me in the designated room, just for laundry. I am heartbroken when I think about all the things she and my grandfather sacrificed to get us where we are today.
I learned alot from my grandmother when I took care of her in the summer months of the earlier years of the new millennium. She taught me how to cook Pea’s soup, how to sew properly, how to ‘talk back’ at ‘back talk’ and how important it was to put your clothes on the clothes line with the smallest items first so that ‘the bigger towels don’t get caught up in the trees.’
I think the most valuable lesson I learned was the comfort found in silence. In between vacuuming carpets, polishing floors, stirring soups, dusting tables, sorting pill containers and flicking channels, I saw my grandmother in the truest sense.
Sitting in ‘her chair’ by the bay window, staring out over the Harbour and across to Frankie’s Cove, in complete silence. Occasionally stroking her hair or fixing a loose thread on a throw cushin, she just sat. A hundred things probably poured through her mind, but she just sat. At ease, dignified, and said everything she needed to say just with a smile.
My grandfather was the same. Amongst all my chores my favorite was pinning out the clothes. As I mentioned before, extreme care had to be taken about which items were to go on the line first. My grandmother had a pulley line, but also stationary lines that were held up in the middle with wooden poles.When I went out by the woodshed to pin out the delicates I would always catch a glimpse of my grandfather in the doorway of his shed, tapping his feet to some unknown jigg that plays everlasting in his mind. Whistling along as he spoke to his ancestors, still very much alive, along the shoreline.
When I think about home those are the things that I know best. That, and gallavanting along the shores of Shoal Point with my beloved dog, Kimo. It’s been 13 months since Kimo ran away, never to be found. At 15 we all know in the back of our minds that he ran away to die, trying not to burden us with his body — but oh how I wish he did, I wish so much that I had somewhere to go to say goodbye, and hello from time to time.
When I think about home these are the things I will always cherish. No matter how grey the clapboard gets, no matter how many patches of rot show up on the baseboard lines, no matter how many times I stroll across the marsh and through the graveyard to greet the sun & waves, alone. These are the memories that keep my heart beating.