Monday mornings would find Mom stationed at her Kenmore wringer washing machine.
That old appliance required commitment, strength and lots of time. Mom spent the better part of the day feeding laundry through the wringer, and hanging it out to dry.
Winter months forced her to hang the clothes indoors, on lines strung out like spider webs across the laundry room. It transformed the space into a clammy labyrinth of narrow damp passageways. A blanket of humidity spread through the house, fogging my glasses and leaving me feeling as if I had developed the beginnings of COPD.
I hated Mondays, but not because it was laundry day.
Monday was also soup day.
Mom being preoccupied with the laundry would throw together a pot of soup and leave it to simmer all day.
No doubt about it, Mom was a great cook. Memories of her mouthwatering homemade meals still woo my taste buds. Our home was infused with the savory aromas of her culinary skills.
But something went terribly wrong on the day she learned to make soup.
Specifically, chicken soup.
As in every other chicken soup recipe, she included the usual suspects; celery, carrots, onion, along with a few other unrecognizable ingredients. She claimed the pot contained chicken but I never could locate it. It was more of a greasy bland vegetable broth and tasted nothing like chicken.
As my brother-in-law once put it:
A chicken may have flown over the pot — but I don’t believe it actually landed in there.
The only thing that saved the day was her homemade egg dumplings.
Mom would place a bowl of her mystery soup in front of me and I’d load it up with as many dumplings as the bowl would allow, but it always ended the same way. When the dumplings were gone, soup remained. And come hell or high water, she was going to make me finish it.
I grew up in a time when families were expected to eat meals together. When moms and dads had the final word on everything. An era when life lessons were taught at an early age. The attempts to plead my case always concluded with me finishing the bowl.
Mom knew something about that soup. Dumplings alone couldn’t provide the nourishment I needed to grow and thrive. Mom also knew that her chicken soup was good for the soul. In order to sustain myself in the future, I would need to learn how to do things I didn’t want to do.
I’m grateful for those early lessons because I’ve found that life often forces us to swallow things we don’t like: difficult circumstances that leave us no other choice but to journey through them.
Over time I’ve come to rely on an indisputable certainty: morning dawns a new day…like Tuesday.
Tuesday happened to be ironing day. A day we might expect to find a savory pot of chile or a rich beef stew simmering on the stove.
I loved Tuesdays!