Miller: Find joy in the simple

Published 12:28 pm Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The sun peeks in on this chilly morning helping to warm my writing corner, and another Monday rolls around. The late, Karen Carpenter’s lyrics of one of her many hits, “Rainy Days and Mondays,” flits through my mind so I pull it up on YouTube and take a listen. Beautiful song, but a downer. I try to think of another Monday song and look up The Mamas and The Papas song “Monday, Monday” — another downer. Then an unsolicited advertisement about something related to Covid 19 pops up, and I decide to put my phone away.

Enough already! This looks like a good day to have a good day so I will search my memory bank for a pleasant tale to share.

The old green farmhouse of my happiest childhood memories sat high atop a hill surrounded by an expansive lawn, fields and forest. There was always something to keep Mamaw busy since a brood of grandchildren incessantly ran to and fro and were nearly always hungry!

When I ventured into the kitchen, Mamaw’s hands and apron had a dusting of flour. She cooked up the most delicious biscuits and apple fritters that ever passed my lips, and of all the times I found my way into her kitchen she never frowned at the interruption. She always had time for a little girl’s chatter and questions no matter how those hands flew to finish her chores.

A wringer washer also took up space in the kitchen. An agitator would wash the clothes, but instead of the clothes spinning to almost dry in the spin cycle and then the dryer completing the rest of the job, the clothes had to be manually squeezed out enough to be placed in the wringer which consisted of two spinning cylinders spaced closely together. After these steps then the clothes were hung to dry on the clothesline or any other space that would keep them off the ground and in the sunshine.

I begged and begged Mamaw to let me help her with the clothes.

“Mamaw, please let me help. I promise I’ll be careful!” I asked once again.

Finally, I wore down her resolve, and Mamaw agreed to let me help with the wash.

“The wringer would really hurt you if you let your hands get too close. You have to be very careful. Now watch how I do it,” she said.

Then, she gave me explicit instructions on how to do the job safely.

Somehow, in my excitement to have a big girl job I forgot her instructions, or one would seem so, because in a matter of minutes I had managed to get my arm rolled up in the wringer! It really hurt, but no real harm was done, maybe because my arm wasn’t much bigger than the clothes that were being wrung out. She wasn’t upset with me and didn’t scold. Instead, she held me and wiped away my tears.

She taught me to find joy in the ordinary, and gave me a solid foundation of love.

 Jan Penton Miller can be reached at lilsisjan@yahoo.com.