I slide the quarters into the machine and with a 'click, woosh' the washer comes to life. The water starts pouring in and the timer begins counting down the length of the cycle: 21 minutes. I settle into the chair in the laundry room, pull out my phone, and wait.
This is not my laundry in the machine, it is my grandmother's. Grammy, as she is known to her five grandchildren, is a young 86 and lives in an apartment that is part of an assisted living complex. She lives on her own and needs no nursing help but enjoys not having to worry about taking care of a house and all the amenities they have to offer here. However, the laundry room is down two flights of stairs which she has no desire to maneuver. That's where I come in.
Ever since my career divorced me (at least, that's how I like to explain it) I come over to Gram's once a week to clean and run the laundry for her. What do we get out of it? Well Gram gets time with her granddaughter and great-grandson, clean laundry and floors, and a chauffeur to any errands she wants to do. Kieran, the one and only great-grandchild to date, gets to play with his Great-Grammy, eat french fries, and usually baby food from Target...or a toy...or both. Not that he's spoiled or anything. ;)
What do I get? Time. Time with my one remaining grandparent, time to watch my son radiate love for his Great-Grammy, time to etch these moments into my heart and snap as many candid shots as I can of him sprawled in her lap asleep or the two of them sitting on the floor together while she feeds him vanilla ice cream. Time to have her reminisce about her life and relatives I never knew. Time to talk and laugh about our family and the latest 'thing' going on.
I also get twenty-one minutes while the washer does its thing all to myself. I can read a magazine, catch up on correspondence, browse the internet, or blog. The time always goes by so fast but is always enjoyed. While I sit in the laundry room my Grammy is in her apartment with my son. I don't know exactly what they do for their twenty-one minutes together but I know they enjoying every second they spend together.
I hope and pray that Grammy will live long enough that Kieran can have memories of her, but if not I will happily show him photos of the two of them together and tell him the stories I've collected from her of our family. Most importantly I will tell him of our Wednesdays together and those special twenty-one minutes.