The Heartwarming Reason My Grandma Ironed My Grandpa’s Work Clothes Every Day—Even Though He Was a Farmer
The author’s grandmother wanted the world to see her husband not as an aging farmer with false teeth but exactly as she did.
The Voorhes for Reader's DigestEven though my grandfather, whom I called Papaw, was a farmer, my mamaw would iron his work clothes every day. Mamaw mixed up her own starch in a glass Coke bottle topped with a metal cap that had a multitude of holes in it, like a saltshaker. She would sprinkle Papaw’s pants with the starch, hang them over a chair for a few minutes so they could dry a bit, and then apply the heat of the iron to them. (Here’s how to de-wrinkle clothes without an iron, if you don’t have one!)
Because I watched her do this through my childhood, I figured every old woman in the world did it. But as the years passed, I began to question this practice. Why in the world did Papaw need his work clothes ironed? Most days, he never saw anyone but me and maybe a few other crusty farmers.
Mamaw never ironed my clothes, and I sure didn’t see any use in doing it for myself. Heck, my clothes were usually so dirty by 9 a.m. that any sign of ironing would be long gone.
Say what? My papaw had always been an old man as far as I was concerned. Was Mamaw actually wanting me to consider that Papaw used to be young? Ha ha ha, no way!
She continued, “I want him to feel beautiful. I iron his clothes every day because for all these years, he has made me feel beautiful. He is a man worthy of respect. I want him to look the part every day. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
I heard what she said and was kinda grossed out. I decided to forget I had ever asked. How could this old woman think that an old man with false teeth was beautiful? Sheesh, I thought. Old people. (Don’t ignore the elderly–these pieces of advice from your grandparents are important to keep in mind.)
The years went on, and I watched Mamaw and Papaw grow old together. I was probably 30 when it dawned on me what beauty really was—it was Mamaw ironing Papaw’s pants with starch from a Coke bottle.
Joe McKendry for Reader's Digest