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Being Grateful

Wash day.

Wash day.

Thanksgiving is a reflective time, as we all know, and it is good for the soul to pause and do that reflecting. There are all kinds of things for which to be grateful. Friends and family of course, home, community, opportunity, comfort, security – all of those are strong candidates for topping the list. But I realize that also right up there for me is my washing machine.

Perhaps providing a little background information is in order.

Washing clothes in a plastic basin in water carried from the village pump.

Washing clothes in a plastic basin in water carried from the village pump.

A little over a month ago, my faithful washing machine of 21 years and three moves quit. I had a home warranty policy, which covered such catastrophies, but I was having a terribly hard time convincing that company’s customer service representatives to honor the coverage. I was polite, I was calm, I was persistent, I was patient, and then I hit the wall. I called 20 more times. I asked to speak to the supervisor. And the president. I became furious, I raged, I fumed, and every week when I took my mountain of laundry and $27 worth of quarters to the coin-op laundry mat, I was in danger of spontaneously combusting.

And then I went to Haiti.

It was a buying trip and we stopped at the home of one of our artists, who offered us a couple of chairs and invited us to sit down while he went into the back of his shop to bring us his latest designs. While we were waiting, I noticed a woman next door, face impassive, handwashing her family’s laundry in a battered plastic tub. The bubbles had nearly been exhausted, but on she scrubbed. Clearly, when you carry your own

The clothes line.

The clothes line.

water, five gallons at a time from the village pump several blocks away, you don’t empty the basin prematurely. Diligently, she wrung the skirt, blouse, and tee-shirt one by one and then methodically hung them up to dry on a line strung between rafters across the front of the house. I watched in¬†silent awe and admiration as she¬†walked resolutely inside and continued with the tasks of the day.

When I returned home, I got a new washer, I just did it; my battles were over and so was my fury. What was I even mad about? Was it because I “couldn’t” do my laundry? Now I load my clothes into the washer, push a few buttons, and 40 minutes later, throw them into the new matching dryer where they tumble for a while and come out, more or less clean and perfect every single time. For that, I am grateful. And even more, I am grateful to that dignified woman in Haiti who, in the simple act of washing her clothes gave me perspective.

 

Contributed by Linda for It’s Cactus

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