I remember it well: standing atop the vinyl-covered stool, the red embroidered apron, several sizes too large, tied around my waist. In front of me was a sink full of dishes, waiting to be washed and placed in the cupboards. Beside me stood my great-grandmother, patiently aiding my feeble attempts at washing the dirty cutlery and delicate glasses.
This happened most any time I spent the night at her house. I would help with the cooking, and help with the cleaning. I would follow most every step she took. We played paper dolls. And played outside. And a few times a year I’d get to hold Polly, the rag doll that had belonged to my grandmother when she was a little girl.
It’s a wonder I never broke anything when we washed the dishes. And it’s a testimony to her spirit that she never just took over.
But as we would stand there together, elbow-deep in dishwater (and me wearing as much of the soap as I had used), she would listen, and she would talk. Often, she would recall stories of her younger years. And sometimes, she would tell me tall tales and stories meant to teach me important life lessons.
I didn’t always catch on immediately – I just loved to hear her tell tales. But I can tell you how that much of who I am comes from the way she talked to me, listened to me, and simply lived life in a way that I respected and admired.
She was a lady, in the truest sense of the word. And I’m thankful for her impact on my life.