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On The Wringing of Dishcloths

(After our conversation, David told me in no uncertain terms, “This should be your next blog.” So when the hubs speaks, I try to listen…sometimes)

Last night, I told David something I have never told him in our 34 years of marriage. No, not some deep secret I was hiding or some huge bank account I’d never told him about. It was pretty simple, actually.

This is what I told him: “I’ve never told you this, but every time I wring out a washrag or a dishcloth, I think of your grandmother Ivy” to which he replied with a puzzled look on his face, “Why?”

I had two amazing grandmothers growing up. I respected them, admired them and loved them dearly. I got to spend many days and weeks with both of them, learning from them and enjoying their company.

When David and I got married (actually before that even), I got to meet his two grandmothers…Georgia Brown Ramsey and Lillian Orand Ivy. After David and I married, we practically lived with his Mamu and Pawpaw Ramsey, since they had a large home in Waco and that was the base of our ministry, and had been for David and his family for years.

Grandmother
Lillian Orand Ivy

David’s other grandmother, Grandmother Ivy, lived in the northwest corner of Arkansas…Centerton, to be exact. She had a 2-story farmhouse, meagerly but tastefully decorated, shelves and shelves of books (and literally stacks of romantic novel paperbacks in her upstairs closet).

Without going into more and more endless details about her life or her home, let’s suffice it say, she was a pretty amazing woman.

I can remember as a young bride, standing in the kitchen watching her bake biscuits and sweet rolls with no measuring tools except the palm of her hand. I hung on every word she said as she would tell me what she was doing and why she was doing it. She gave me a couple of her favorite novels that she loved, she taught me how to make freezer jam and how to knit a dishcloth. She made breathtaking quilts, all by hand…never used a sewing machine to quilt.

But…back to my admission to David last night. I can remember helping Grandmother wash dishes when we would visit. She would wash, I would dry (she had no dishwasher). And as she would finish washing, she would take the dishrag and wring it out, then hang it over the faucet to dry. But she didn’t wring the dishcloth out like I’d ever seen.

Most people position their hands fist to fist…thumbs to thumbs. But Grandmother always had her left hand in a fist, palm down…and her right hand in a fist, palm up…like when you hold a baseball bat. Hard to describe in words, but she would then twist her hands in opposite directions…thus wringing out the dishcloth.

Why was this important to me? To be honest, I’m not really sure, except I had just never seen anyone wring a dishcloth like that. And I wasn’t sure why she did…until recently.

As I told David, although it fascinated me to watch, I now think I know why she did it that way. In recent months, I have developed a mild form of arthritis or something in both of my thumbs. I blame it on years of banging on a piano, drawing, writing…just about anything involving working with my hands. And it has begun to hurt my hands to wring out my dishcloth or washcloth the way I always have. But when I do it the way Grandmother did, it doesn’t hurt so much.

Grandmother Ivy had a working woman’s hands…beautiful, thin hands, but her knuckles were slightly enlarged, I’m sure due to some form of arthritis developed through decades of using her hands for cooking, quilting, knitting, gardening, canning, etc. etc. Plus I believe there was a degree of heredity involved, because my mother-in-law’s hands look very similar, but she’ll be the first to tell you it wasn’t from one second of quilting, knitting, gardening or canning or anything of the sort lol

So, that’s the story behind my admission.

I have been so blessed to have had 4 grandmothers in my life that have left a legacy of all kinds of lessons and knowledge and advice and love and humor. I pray I honor them with the life I live and the lessons. love and humor I pass on to others around me (maybe even a grandchild one day…if I live to see it) lol

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