Monday, November 10, 2008

The Laundry God

This is the other piece I submitted in the writing competition:

The Laundry God

In my utility room - just over there by the sink and held in the tiny gap twixt broom cupboard and wall - is a small black and white photograph. It is of my father.The picture was taken some time ago in the early 1980s and marks his retirement. It’s an informal shot; after a lifetime’s teaching he’s casually dressed, perhaps in anticipation of leisurely days ahead. The local newspaper printed it alongside some words about years of loyal service, the love of a good woman and happy families – the usual platitudes. We didn’t really need to read it. We knew our Dad.

He was to enjoy a good few years of retirement; widowed he seemed to discover a new sense of freedom and independence. He saw his grandchildren grow up and became a dear friend as well as a parent to us, his own children, too.

He died. We mourned. It was on one of the house-clearing sorties in the dark days that followed that I found the picture amongst a lifetime’s ephemera and stuffed it for safe-keeping into the back pocket of my jeans. It emerged only slightly crumpled and narrowly missed a cycle in the washing machine. I smoothed out a crease or two and wedged it out of harm’s way behind the pipes of our basement laundry and got on with life. My guilt at putting my recently deceased father’s photograph behind a cold water pipe gradually diminished as he, overlooking the daily laundry attained the status of Household God.

We moved on about 5 years ago. I packed up methodically – the very model of organisation. Room by room, like with like; into the box of washing powders, soap and Stain Devils went my father. He emerged 100 miles down the road, slightly more care worn but so sweetly scented. In the flurry of unpacking I found him a new niche and tucked him up where he is to be found today.

He smiles down at me from here, his kind face as creased and lined as the paper it is printed on. He is my Laundry God. ‘O spare me from shrinkage and fugitive colours’ I beseech as I sort whites from coloureds or indulge in the rare ceremony of hand-washing.

Perhaps he deserves a more venerated home than the laundry. I remind myself that ‘cleanliness is next to Godliness’. He would see the joke.

16 comments:

Faith said...

Ah, he has a kind face Mountainear, you must miss him. My father's photo is above the fireplace. He died 3 years ago and I still haven't framed it, or believed he's really dead.

Milla said...

that was absolutely lovely, ME, really dear, your love for him shines through, it's touching and tender and funny. Loved it.

Arosebyanyothername said...

It's nice to relate your father to some everyday activity like the laundry - you certainly can't forget him easily that way. I enjoyed reading your blog - good luck with it!

ChrisH said...

Ah, good old Dad! Now I've started thinking about mine and getting all choked!

elizabethm said...

Loved this m. I think the idea of his memory being woven into the everyday in this way is just perfect. I like his face too.

lampworkbeader said...

A delightful place for a much loved father.

lampworkbeader said...

A delightful place for a much loved father.

Twiglet said...

Most of my photos of Dad include some gardening tool he was working with at the time - he's pushing the wheelbarrow or wielding a fork. If we want to be close to him we just take a walk down to the bottom of his garden and know he is with us. A much loved Dad is like a well worn teddy - a bit wrinkly and bald in places but worth his weight in gold.

Withy Brook said...

I look forward to reading that in the WI magazine - it surely must win! A lovely piece of writing.

JanetD said...

That was a lovely piece and your dad sounded a real gentleman.I can see the family resemblance.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Yep - two classy pieces - they dont know what they have missed!

CAMILLA said...

A brilliant piece written about your father, he has a very kindly face.

This writing for competition should be an absolute winner.

xx

Hannah Velten said...

I would say that's one of the best places in the house to keep your father's photo - no doubt you glance/talk to/stare at him nearly every day as you get on with the laundry...better than him being in a photo album or in the dining room (sorry, we don't use our dining room that often - maybe you use yours more?!). Lovely writing anyway. Mootia x

Exmoorjane said...

Fabulous piece of writing. I love the idea of the Laundry God....especially the bit where he comes with you, packed amidst the Stain Devil etc.
You was robbed, mate.

Pam said...

What a lovely place to keep him, so you see him often. I hope you win!

LittleBrownDog said...

A gorgeous piece of writing, Mountainear. So simple, yet so full of love and meaning.