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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Doing The Dishes and Memories

My daily chore around the house is doing the dishes. We don't have a dishwasher, so everything gets done by hand. I actually like doing the dishes. It has many advantages for me. I will list them below, with my slice of life slant on it all.
Before doing the dishes was my task, it was my father-in-laws job. After my mother in law died in 2002 it was decided that my father in law was too old to take care of himself. At that point he was in his late 80s, and while still coherent and able to do most things, it would be lonely and he would need some help getting the daily things he would need. As well, if he was sick or fell down for some reason there would be no one there to help him. We just felt it was safer if he lived with someone else.
Instead of running back to his place all the time, which is something my wife didn't have the time or energy to do, we decided he should live with us. We have a big house and plenty of rooms so that was never an issue. My father-in-law was basically a homebody and required very little in the way of care. He minded his own business, cooked his own meals and could take care of himself. Other than some shopping for him, he was no bother at all.
He also liked to stay busy and stay sharp. Even though he was quite a bit older, his mind was still very sharp. He also liked to keep a routine and ritual.
His everyday routine consisted of breakfast,  followed by doing the dishes, followed by an hour of internet time, then a nap, then some Price Is Right, followed by lunch, then another nap, followed by more tv, then dinner, then going to bed. Pretty much every day was that routine, excluding the weekend when my wife would take him out for lunch and possibly some shopping. That went on for about 5 years until he moved into a retirement home when he needed more care than we could provide for him in our home.
Now, I don't like kids around the house and I have always been that way. I like my peace and quiet and for that reason I have never wanted or had any kids. The one thing about having my father-in- law around was that he was noisy. That is a family trait that he had, my wife has, and most of her relatives have. Being someone who writes and needs to concentrate, I was directly below the kitchen and would hear him every morning banging the plates, the pots and pans and what not. While he was in very good condition, he was hard of hearing and could not hear how much banging he was doing. After a while, I tried to get up early and do the dishes before he did, and possibly just leave him one or two to keep him busy but not disturb my thought process.
Now that my father-in-law has passed away, one of my strongest memories was the whole dishes situation and every time I still do the dishes, I think of him and those days when he was around.
I like doing the dishes for many reasons, and one of them is that it is mindless work and it allows me to let my mind wander and come up with great ideas for writing and other things. It is one of those tasks that gives that to me. Of course, since I also live in the house that my parents owned while I was growing up, I also have lots of memories around here and those come to the surface when I spend time doing tasks that my mother used to do. 
For me, doing the dishes is never really just doing the dishes. It is a task that leads me to memories of the past and to new ideas for the future. Sometimes though, it is just about cleaning dishes and keeping the kitchen clean to keep my wife happy in the present.
Doing the dishes---a task that covers all aspects and times of your life. At least for me, that is what it is.

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