She used to come over and fold laundry.
I was probably five or six. She’d come over every few days, sit in the living room, and fold baskets of laundry. With five kids under the age of 15, there was always laundry to be folded.
Sometimes she read books to us. Other times we played cards, mostly Skipbo.
I remember that her hands would tremble if they sat still too long, and so she liked to keep busy.
At church, on Sundays, she played the organ.
My older brothers would go over and mow her lawn in the summertime. I was jealous that they got to go see her more often than I did.
When she passed away, her family gave my parents the little white sedan she drove. They gave me one of her china dolls. And one of my brothers got the Skipbo cards.
But out of all the things I remember about her, I remember the laundry.
I have no memory of her asking if she could help. I remember her coming in, putting her coat aside, and diving in. When she ran out of laundry, she’d send us to go check and see if there was any more on the clothesline.
With the clothes folded and put back in the baskets to be put away, she seemed to feel like her job was done, and done well. She’d sometimes stay and read, or play games, but sometimes she would just leave after the laundry was folded.
I’ve always held onto that. She saw a need — what mother of small children doesn’t need help with the laundry? — and she helped out. Not once or twice, but consistently, for such a long time that I don’t remember when it started.
Being there when someone needs you is important, but sometimes it looks unexpected. Sometimes it looks like laundry baskets.
Originally published on Facebook in 2021.