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Feather Dusters

“Honey, where’s your feather duster?”

Say, what?

I was in the hospital after the birth of my daughter, and Mom was holding down the fort at home, looking after my four-year-old son and cleaning up a storm.

This was back in 1980, when new moms stayed five days in the hospital and the hospital served the new parents a steak dinner before mom went home.

It made me laugh to think she wanted to know where my feather duster was….I didn’t own one. Her philosophy was to start “from the top down,” dust walls and picture frames, work her way to the table tops and then vacuum.

Mom was 59 at the time of this birth, and a great help when the kids were born. She came for 10 days, and she was the type of grandma who did the laundry, cooked up a storm, and cleaned house, letting me have plenty of bonding-with-baby time.

Remembering her feather duster request, got me to thinking of other pleasant memories.

When I was a new bride, she typed up my favorite recipes and sent them to me. Her editorial comments brought the recipes to life for me. For example, when roasting the Thanksgiving turkey, “Be sure to take out the packet of giblets that’s stuffed into the carcass. Don’t forget the neck.” And as to making gravy with the giblets, “Throw away anything that looks too disgusting to use.”

When rolling out biscuit dough, use a floured glass to cut the biscuits. “They should say ‘Ph-ooooo-ff,’ when you cut them.” And they did.

“These pies usually boil over,” she wrote about fruit pies. “Put a cookie sheet under them so you don’t have to clean the oven!”

My mother had a great sense of humor, which is fun to remember. She was a talented mimic, and liked to tell bawdy jokes, usually to my embarrassment. One visit she and dad played bridge with my husband and me. As “grandpa” excused himself to use the rest room, Mom grunted, “First time all night I’ve known what he had in his hand.” “Mo-ther!” I protested.

Her golden years ended in her seventies, as some type of dementia closed in. The best times were when we could still get her to laugh. I remember buying a birthday card for her that wolf-whistled when you opened it. She loved it, and opened it over and over again, laughing as if each time were the first. The tears rolled down our faces. Our stomachs and sides ached from laughing.

I have a feather duster now. Mom bought it for me. It’s over thirty years old now, but it brings back a lot of happy memories. You probably have something ordinary at your house--with a story to tell.

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