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The Tissue in the White Wash

I was ready to tackle the last of my morning domestic duties–taking the white wash from the dryer, folding it, and putting it away–when I noticed what my wife had warned me of earlier.

(As a home-based writer/editor with a teacher for a wife, I have to chip and do my share of the house work: clean up the breakfast dishes, vacuum, dust, etc. And I’ve honed the process to a science. I had to if I expected to have any time left for my real work.)

I recalled (vaguely) hearing my wife mention something about finding a facial tissue in the white wash. Her comment went in one ear and out the other, as I’m wont to let such remarks do whenever I’m focused on something else. I promptly forgot her warning.

Until I opened the door of the dryer and out fell dozens of little pieces of white tissue.

Thankfully, the lint trap caught most of it, I thought.

I removed the trap and scraped off an amazing amount of tissue among the normal lint. Putting the trap back into its slot, I caught a glimpse of a bit of tissue that had escaped. My eye followed its lazy descent to the floor. At my feet the floor was covered with shreds of tissue. I dutifully picked them up and tossed them into the trash can before pulling out the assorted T-shirts, athletic socks, and unmentionables and depositing them in the laundry basket. With every handful of white cotton wash came bits and pieces of tissue.

I took the load to the kitchen table and began to sort the items. I shook each one vigorously to get out the wrinkles before I folded it. With every shake came a cloud of tissue lint and residue.

That tissue must have been of three-ply (maybe even four-ply) construction. It multiplied like the biblical loaves and fishes. It seemed that every time I moved a piece of clothing, it shed particles of tissue all over the kitchen floor. I picked up all I could see and tossed it into the nearby trash can.

I carried the folded clothes to the bedroom and began placing them in their assigned corners of the dresser. As I did so, I picked more tidbits of tissue from the items.

Sighing, I returned to the kitchen to begin my writing for the day. As I passed through the living room, I noticed bits of tissue on the carpet, pieces I’d missed on the kitchen floor, stepped on, and tracked through the just-vacuumed living room and bedroom.

I just know that the next time I pull a T-shirt from my dresser drawer that with it will come even more tissue particles. I can feel that lump under my armpit even now. Or the lump in the toe of my sock after I’ve put on my sneakers and headed out for my walk. I’m convinced that if I could reassemble that one tissue like a jigsaw puzzle, I’d have a small box of tissues for that next cold or sinus infection.

As I think about this incident, I can’t help seeing the lesson it can teach. Our words and actions, whether intentional or unintentional, have consequences. Although we might try to clean up or make amends or seek the forgiveness of those affected by what we say or do, the consequences sometimes keep cropping up, just like those infernal bits of tissue.

Eventually, those pesky pieces will all disappear, but until they do, I’ll have constant reminders to check somebody’s pockets before doing the wash. And I’m reminded that it could be worse; I could have left an ink pen in my shirt pocket!

Been there. Done that. Don’t want to repeat it!

Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson

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