The following is just a story. A true story. But not one with any significant point. And yet I feel there is some significance to it, and the conversations have been rolling around in my head for days. So I thought I’d post it here in the hopes of maybe figuring out (maybe not today, but eventually) what the significance in my head is.

My mother was here to visit the other day.

“Can I do some dishes for you?”

“Um, if you want to. You don’t have to.”

“Well, I just figured it’s something I could do to help you out.”

I appreciated that. So she did some dishes for me. Filled the dish drainer (I probably could have fit more in there, but she filled it about as much as my husband usually does, so I guess I kind of overstuff it) and then said, “It would drive me nuts to have such a small dish drainer.”

“Well, they didn’t have any bigger ones at Walmart.”

“Yeah, but what did I always have?” That’s her teacher rhetoric coming out. Or maybe just the way she talks. I don’t know, she started teaching before I was born so I have nothing to compare it to.

“Um . . . a bigger one?”

“No, I always had two, one that I kept next to the sink and one that I kept in one side of the sink. I don’t have it anymore because–well, frankly, because I don’t need it anymore. But that’s what I always had.”

“Seriously? Always? I don’t remember that.”

“Well, since you were 6 or 7 anyway.”

I have no memory of this. None. I remember dirty dishes in both sides of the sink, all over the counter, and on the floor. I do not remember even being introduced to the idea of a dish drainer in one side of the sink until I was out of college and living in an apartment attached to a friend’s house. That friend keeps a dish drainer in the sink rather than on the counter to the side. I thought it was a cool idea when I saw that she does it that way, since it keeps more counter space, but when I tested it out in my own life I didn’t like doing dishes that way. But that is honestly the first memory I have of a dish drainer in a sink instead of next to it.

So I asked my oldest sister. The real irony here being that she and I have had many conversations about how much I remember vs. how little she remembers. But she remembers two dish drainers. She also remembers the sink being so piled with dishes that the second drainer couldn’t be seen, so that second drainer was kind of useless anyway. But she remembers. I have no memory of it.

Later, after my mom had left, I started putting away the dishes she had piled in the empty side of the sink. I’ve considered getting a second dish drainer for that side of the sink, in case there are a lot of dishes to do and I need the extra space. But when that happens, I usually either spread a towel on the table, or I sanitize the other side of the sink and just put the clean dishes in there. And now my toddler likes to stand on a stool at that side of the sink with a dish pan of clean water to rinse dishes in after I’ve washed them, so it’s even less likely that a second drainer would get used.

But as I was examining dishes (about half of which went back to be rewashed–I will never understand how my mother can miss so many spots of food and grease) I thought about this again, wondered if she had sanitized that side of the sink (or even given it a quick wash with dish soap) before piling [relatively] clean dishes in it . . . and found myself thinking that maybe a second dish drainer could be useful after all. (And all dishes that were actually touching the sink went to be washed again.)

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