Written by Cathy
A husband sees his wife to the car, children buckled in, “Take care.” A woman bends over her aging mother and, with a loving pat, whispers, “Take care.”
I was thinking about this expression as I took a little time to iron some items that have been piling up in the basket. This is the kind of chore I can indulge in without cringing now that I’ve retired from the “rat race”. My friends and I observed that our children seldom, if ever, iron. I understand! Clothes are wash-and-dry, smooth and wear. Throw them on as you rush toward the door, car keys dangling from your finger. I once joked, as a young working mom, that my toddler daughter outgrew her pretty dresses before I had time to iron them! But now this task is not so dreaded, and today it was comforting to slow down, after a hectic weekend, and “take care” of this task. My favorite item is a linen tablecloth with crocheted details, a vintage piece passed down to me from an aunt who always seemed to know how to “take care” of things. Tablecloths were crisply starched and pressed, napkins too. We helped to sprinkle the cloths in the morning and place them in plastic bags in the refrigerator (!) until they were next to be pressed. I can still smell the steamy fragrance emanating from the ironing board, and hear the rhythmic thud of the heavy iron against the cloth covered wooden board.
Back to “Take care”. Aren’t we consumed with the burden of taking care of our physical selves?! We brush, floss, exercise and eat the right foods. We vigilantly read labels– cautious about additives that are sneaked into our food chain at every turn. We check our sunscreen, our toothpaste, our lotions and potions. It seems like a full time job! But for myself, I would like more from that expression, “Take care.”
I overheard a little girl quietly sob to her busy mama,”But, Mommy, you aren’t listening to my words.” That busy mother stopped in her tracks and bent low to her child, “What do you need?” That to me was the essence of taking care, making the time to take care of emotional, as well as physical needs.
I see that need in so many places. We invite our elderly parents to the party, but they sit quietly, not really a part of the scene. Maybe someone needs to put an arm around them and pull them in: “take care” of them.
The shy child at the playground needs to be engaged. Is your child the one who might say, “Come play.”
The harried mother in the grocery line might appreciate a knowing smile. The hard-working partner needs an “attaboy” once in awhile, the offer of a cold drink or a warm smile.
Now, I am not completely naive. I know that our efforts sometimes meet with rebuffs– the grocery checker who refuses to make eye contact, the driver who refuses to acknowledge your yield so that he can merge, the partner who is so distracted he doesn’t notice the meal you have specially prepared. But let’s make a vow to persevere. In our busy lives, let’s promise to take a moment or two to add a few words to “Take care.” Let’s Take Care– of Each Other!