I have almost always washed dishes, sometimes I had help, sometimes not. When I was a child, Mother called on me when the restaurant got too busy for her, Dad, and a waitress, if we had one, to handle. My brother washed dishes with me. Usually I washed and he dried. To amuse ourselves we bickered or stacked the dishes in the drainer as high as possible stopping just before they began to topple. We called it making castles. Our parents paid us 25¢ an hour. One day I was at my friend, Patricia Franklin’s house for supper. I loved the Franklins, a big catholic family with five boys and one girl. The girl, Patricia, was my best friend, and I had a crush on one of her brothers. He didn’t have a crush on me.
Usually, Patricia and I washed the dishes after supper when I was there. The Franklins obviously had other arrangements when I wasn’t. On this summer evening, when I went into the kitchen to start on the dishes, I figured somebody would follow. To my surprise, no one came. I washed all the dishes by myself and left them to dry piled majestically into a fine castle. I got a lot out of the experience. For one thing I was pleased that my skills were such that someone besides my own family needed me. For another, being so responsible make me feel like a grown-up. The third thing was that I felt I was expressing my regard for the family and they would all pleased with me. I don’t know whether that ever happened, because I’m not sure they knew they had a martyr in their midst. Of course, their being Catholic, I wouldn’t be even a minor martyr compared to the ones the had read about. But I felt good about myself, anyhow.
A restaurant customer once said I was the chief cook and bottle-washer. I couldn’t claim the first part-but the second part was true. I have been washing dishes for 70 years. Every country on this globe has people who can make the same claim (if they have dishes, and more to the point, if they have food).
Now there’s only Bill and me. Together we keep the kitchen moderately clean. I’m glad I have things like that to do. I heard a story once from a friend who visited a rehab center. She gave a talk and after refreshments, one of the elderly women took her plastic cup over to a sink where she slowly and lovingly washed and dried it. You see, she had no home to care for anymore. I’m glad I have jobs to do even now. I thank God for dishes and for everything that goes with them. Also I thank him for my electric dishwasher, even though one of us has to wash them by hand before we put them in or they won’t come out clean.