Mother has a t-shirt from her old job. A comfy, tan, heavy cotton t-shirt with a slogan from some past customer service-oriented advertising campaign. She likes it . She likes to wear it. She likes to wear it often. She likes to wear it repeatedly. She does not, however, like to do laundry. So, her favorite comfy shirt gets worn several times before I realize that I’ve seen it many more times than I’ve seen her do laundry (more on that later), and I feel compelled to comment.
“Mom, you’ve worn that shirt four or five times already. It needs to be washed,” I point out.
“It’s fine,” she replies.
“Mom, you’ve worn it the last three times you’ve gone to the senior center. They’ll think you don’t have any other clothes. Also, you need to wash it before you wear it again.” I stop short of ordering her to go change. She wouldn’t anyway, not without what I anticipate would be a really big battle – I’m not sure because I haven’t pushed that hard yet.
“Okay,” she says, in that voice and tone that I recognize immediately as meaning, ‘I’m agreeing with you so you will stop talking at me about this.’ So that’s where I get it. Hmmm.
Yesterday morning was at least the third time we’ve had this conversation. My husband overhears and says I should make her change, or tell her the shirt will go away, but I’m not ready to be that much of an authoritarian for anyone, especially not my mother. I do have to agree with him on his point that it is not only a matter of esthetics, but also a health issue. *sigh*
So, I phone the senior center and have a chat with the social worker. She says to take the shirt and put it in the laundry, telling Mother it is no longer available as it needs washing and is in the laundry. Great plan – except that that still makes me the de facto laundress because Mother doesn’t do laundry unless/until I go into her closet and pull out all the clothing that she has already worn and rehung and announce that it is Mom’s Laundry Day. I don’t want to do this. I am still trying to figure out how to get out of doing my own laundry. (No luck so far on that one, either.) *sigh*
I do have a Plan B, though. It won’t get me out of my laundry duties, but it might reduce their frequency a little. I call Mom’s old job. I speak to the manager. I explain to him a little bit of the situation, and how I attribute her fondness for the shirt to a combination of its inherent comfiness and the fond memories Mom has of working there for twenty-plus years. Is there any way, I ask him, I can get a couple more employee t-shirts for her. He transfers me back to the office manager, instructing me to tell her what size and how many I want. Hooray! The office manager also remembers Mom, and in addition to the three new t-shirts – one yellow, one orange, and one green – she will be including notes from current employees who also remember Mom from her time there. She starts to address the package to me, but I suggest addressing it directly to Mom so she will open it immediately and have a nice surprise.
I hope it arrives today.