Ironing sheets is not common practice among folks today. However, in my grandmother’s era, sheets were ironed regularly. With the invention of permanent press, life became easier for the homemaker…all homemaker’s except my Grandmother. She continued to iron every sheet she put on a bed. Most thought it was a waste of time, but as my time with Grandma drew to a close, I understood how ironing sheets was a time of reflection and was even therapeutic. I was fortunate to be able to spend two weeks with Grandma just before she died. Each night as I crawled into the guest bed, I felt as if I were in another world. The sheets were crisp and inviting. I felt so special each evening because I knew Grandma had ironed those sheets.
As Grandma slept in her hospital bed at home, we felt it was important that Grandma always have ironed sheets. I ironed many sheets in those two weeks. At first I laughed with Grandma about wishing I had seen her “trick” for ironing a fitted sheet, but then it became an experience in which I could connect to Grandma’s life and world.
One evening, as Grandma, her three adult children and their spouses laughed and talked of memories, I was busy ironing sheets. I was thankful for the laughter; for I knew there wouldn’t be many more opportunities such as this. Then I began to drift off to Grandma’s life as she was ironing sheets. I wondered if she thought about her children during those times. Did she worry about where they were? Were they safe? Were they in trouble? I wondered if she thought about Grandpa while she ironed. He worked away from home early in their marriage and it had to have been a burden on her. Was he safe as he traveled? Did she wonder what he was doing so far away? Did he miss her as much as she missed him? I wondered if she spent time thinking about her own life. Was she living the life Jesus would have her live? Was she the best wife and mother she could be?
And as these thoughts spun in my mind, I realized how relevant each question was to my own life. How are my children? Do they need more of me? Do they need less of me? Are they really safe? Are they happy? Thoughts of my husband came to mind. He was 1,300 miles away…was he safe? Did he miss me as much as I missed him? And then my thoughts turned to me. Was I living the life that Jesus would have me live? Was I the best mother and wife that I could be? I felt too inadequate in comparison to Grandma. But I also knew that her example had been part of my life for 43 years and all I needed to do was search Grandma’s life for that example.
Ironing sheets has become part of my life now. I want each person that spends a night in one our beds to feel as special as I felt as I lay in Grandma’s guest bed. I also use that time to reflect on my life and remember my connection to Grandma. Ironing sheets may not be the most important thing that I do today, but it will keep Grandma closer to me.
It was so appropriate that Proverbs 31 was read at Grandma’s funeral. She fit the description closer than any person I’ve ever known. How I pray that can be said of me when my life has ended. Grandma’s life was inspiring. I strive each day to follow her example, for I know that Jesus was the center of her world. He was the light that guided her footsteps.
I wrote this story several years ago…it was the first attempt at writing a devotional and after several submissions and rejections, I quit writing for some time. I kept it just as it was when I wrote it in 2003.
I don’t iron sheets any more. Life has a way of keeping us from the things we want to do. But I still reflect on my life and how every day, ordinary circumstances and events can bring me right back to reflection. I pray that you find your own times of reflection and can say with me, that Jesus is the Center of your world and the Light that guides my footsteps.
Grace and peace be yours in abundance,