There is a story in the Bible that I love. It is the story of Mary and Martha when Jesus comes to visit them and has a meal in Luke, at the end of chapter 10. Martha is scurrying around (like I would be) trying to be a good hostess especially since it is Jesus visiting. Mary chose to sit at the feet of her beloved friend.
Our mom was like Martha – she scurried after her girls and pushed us to finish tasks until they were done. Of course, all three of us rebelled in one way or another – mostly because we were challenging her authority. But, should I follow that thought, it would be tangential to what I mean to write about.
Although mom loved to read, she was most happy when she was busy. I could not say whether she loved the tasks, but they kept her occupied. So, at any given time, you would catch her doing laundry, washing dishes, cooking or cleaning. She rarely sat because there was always something to do. It is no wonder she tried to fight off giving up everything she liked to do.
At our house, she is the dishwasher. She hunts down dishes and has her radar on for coffee mugs, frying pans, little snack plates, and yes, even paper plates. I don’t know if you know anyone else who does this, but she washes paper plates! I try to tell her that these are disposable, but all I’ll get in her deeply Filipino accent is, “See, huh! You can still use this!”
Frank and I used to share this chore and I think he misses it more than I do, but he understands that she NEEDS this. She needs to stand at the sink and feel the running water over her gnarled fingers. She needs to feel like she has accomplished something. Then comes the tinkering. She dries what she can and puts them away wherever she can find a space.
I kind of feel bad about having her do all the dishes, but it is the one thing she is good at that she can still do. Just like Jesus said about Mary sitting at His feet, this one thing shall not be taken away from mom. She was just at the stove peering into a pot. Her eyesight is not bad, it is just not good so she couldn’t tell you what was in it, but I bet she was wondering if she could transfer the stew and wash the pot!