Daily ablutions are undertaken carefully once one passes 70 years of age. Still necessary, of course, and certainly still required for those with whom one shares a living space. Never more important than now, in these times of excessive restriction. Changing the sheets comes under this category, as well. It's not as easy as it once was, in either case. But work that must be undertaken and effectively completed.
What isn't necessarily expected is a failure of one's assistants in the act of performing the same tasks for one's dishes or one's sheets. We have had a failure of assistance in both of those instances in this time of 'sequestering'. Our washing machine gave out early on -- I think it was in March or April of this astonishing year. Since it lives in the garage, there was no need for a repair person to enter the house, which was somewhat comforting.
In those early days, masks were considered an inconvenience by most who provided repair work -- or, if worn, they were below the nose and always at close range. Repair people seem to need more close contact than some. We were glad that they were still willing to come out and assess the situation. However, the news was not good. The washing machine had died. Repair was not possible. And, we were told, if we wanted a machine that would not fail again in the near future, we should look into a top loader. So we did.
The new machine has proved a step back into the world where the arranging and balancing of a load of wash is particularly required. In fact, if we don't do it right, our wash comes out in one long rope of twisted clothing, or wrapped in one big package of the largest item put in. It's always interesting to pull the load out and arrange it in such a way that when it dries it comes out somewhat resembling the items that were put in the washer in the first place.
But it's all fine. The items are clean. And no one had to beat them on a rock or twist them and hang them on a line.
So now the dishwasher has decided to join the washing machine and give up on us. My guess is that it has actually died as well, but we will see. My husband has hope it's just an electrical problem. That never seems like a promising diagnosis to me, but he hangs onto simple solutions like a 'new fuse' or a new 'panel' of some kind or another. I think it has simply given up the ghost. Too many dishes since we've been home now since March and doing all our meals here. I have apologized, on occasion, for making it work so hard, but it hasn't helped. Apparently it needed more than gratitude.
So tonight I had to actually wash the dishes by hand. It was a surprising step back, and it was not at all unpleasant. I realized that standing at the kitchen sink, my hands deep in hot water and suds, were some very peaceful times. No one expected anything of me while I was thus engaged. My mind was free to float while my hands scrubbed and, by feel, determined just how clean the dishes were. The sensory experience was actually very pleasant. And the sense of accomplishment quite astonishing. I had tried to order a dish drainer to be delivered with my groceries, but they were out of stock. No matter -- I could figure out a way to let them air dry. I've always been convinced they are actually more sanitary if air dried than hand dried with a soggy dish towel. Besides, you get to see them in all their clean glory before they have rested enough to be slotted into their assigned places in the cupboard. Makes them aware of your appreciation for the service they have performed, and everybody is happy.
So if you have to wash your dishes, and yourself, and your sheets, appreciate the results. And be glad of the fact that you have whatever is necessary to do so. I, myself, am glad that I can still do all of these things quite well on my own.
Cleanliness is certainly a spiritual practice, in any case.