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Papa's Handkerchiefs

I was ironing my cloth napkins today. I don’t iron often but it’s not that I don’t know how, I have been trained well. It’s that I don’t often choose to. There was a time in my life when I would iron my school clothes every night before school.

As I ironed each napkin I started to think about my Papa. My mother’s father. Papa was a church pastor so he wore a lot of suits and that meant he needed a lot of handkerchiefs. When I was young Papa would pay me a dime for each handkerchief that I ironed. I was so excited! A dime in those times could buy you 10 pieces of penny candy or one pack of now-laters, just sayin.

Today I filled the iron with water to make sure that I could have steam when I needed it. I turned the iron on the cotton setting to be sure it would be hot enough. Then I followed the same steps each time:

  1. Ironed the napkin flat making sure to go all the way to the edges

  2. fold in half, press the iron down letting the point of the iron press out stubborn creases

  3. fold in half again, iron again making sure to go all the way to the edges

  4. fold one more time and then the final press.

  5. Last inspect my work

This was the same process for ironing my Papa’s handkerchiefs. I would then take them to him and he would look them over and send me back to redo the ones that didn’t make the cut.

Today the thought of ironing his handkerchiefs makes me smile. Makes me think of what gifts that experience had for me. First, the skill of knowing how to iron a damn good handkerchief. Second, a sweet exchange with my Papa. I had something to ofter that he needed and it was valuable enough that he was will too pay me for it. And next if the job isn’t done well I could go back and make it right.

I know I’m just ironing napkins. But somehow today I’m not, I’m also ironing handkerchiefs. I’m feeling my Papa’s love and sitting in such deep gratitude.


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