For as long as I can remember, Mom has always taken care of the dishes.
"Don't worry about them," she used to say when I lived at home. "Just concentrate on getting your homework done. It's more important."
And so I did.
But even after I moved away, I realized that Mom took care of more than just the dishes at her own home. She'd do them at my house, and I remember her taking care of them at my grandmother's house, too. Anywhere she went, Mom was good at helping out with dishes. In fact, she took control of those dishes, and--as kids like to say--she owned them. At least at my house, when Mom was done with the dishes, she left the kitchen looking better than when I'd started.
I often think of what's going to happen when Mom can no longer do the dishes. When she can't remember what the soap is for and the movements required by the actions are too much for her. I hope those days are a long way off because right now, I think doing dishes serves as a comfort to her. The chore itself represents something familiar in a world where everything is becoming unfamiliar. And unfamiliar is scary. I think we can all agree on that.