She's ironed my shirts now for twenty years. It's not a big thing, but each time I go to my closet and see them neatly pressed and hung in a row I remember the early years.
Our first months of marriage were a blur of breathless happiness and adjustment to a life for two. In an effort to please me, she took over the mundane task that my mother had performed for my father and I as long as I could remember. The smell of starch on collars and the steady motion of the iron over crisp white cotton were now repeated in my own kitchen as Lise performed this household ritual for our family.
"It would be so much easier to have the shirts dry cleaned," I once said to her. I don't remember her exact reply but it had to do with the fact that the task helped her to remain part of me, even when I wasn't in the house. That ironing the wrinkles and handling the shirts in preparing them for wear somehow covered me with her love, a love that everyone could see, a love that I could wear as a protection from that sometimes-harsh world away from home.
I watch our sons and daughters iron their own garments now. No lessons in this art were ever given. Just a quiet thing they all do, stitched into their memory through their mother's silent devotion, a devotion to loving service that will hopefully fill and bless their own homes one day.