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Some Lessons Come the Hard Way

Story ID:8819
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Sambro Nova Scotia Canada
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I was twenty years old and on my own for the first time. I moved from
my lifelong home and my parents in Sambro, Nova Scotia to Sydney, Nova
Scotia, two hundred and sixty-five miles away.

Once there, I rented a room in a cheap motel, until I could find an
apartment or room to rent. It was harder in 1980 to find a place to live than it
is today. The internet was in the future. I relied on the local newspaper to
find a place to live.

After a week and a half, I found a shared basement apartment in
a private home. I had one bedroom and a young man from Ontario rented the
second bedroom. We shared a bathroom and the kitchen.

I lived, worked and learned there for a year.

I learned to cook: threw all my veggies in one pot and boiled them to
save on cleaning pots. My grandfather laughed at me. "Why not add meat
and make a stew?"

I hung my head and whispered, "I never thought of that I don't know how
to cook.

Growing up, I watched my Mum slave over the laundry, hang them on
clothesline to dry and then spend hours ironing. Three growing boys created
a lot of laundry.

Determined to be independent, I did the same. I washed my clothes,
hung them on the clothesline. When they dried, I put them in my laundry basket
and carried them inside to iron.

Six months later, as I talked to my Mum on the phone, I complained.
"Mum, I'm doing OK. I cook and clean, but the ironing is a real pain. It
takes forever."

"Michael, it's only your own laundry. It can't take that long to do." she
said. "How much clothes do you have?"

"Not much, really, but it takes forever." I answered. "It's the jeans, socks
and underwear that take the longest time to iron." I heard my Mum chuckle but
continued on. "Mum, it's not funny. Ironing socks and underwear takes forever.
I don't know how you did it."

"I didn't."

"What do you mean you didn't?"

"Michael, I never ironed your underwear, socks, jeans or even your
polo shirts." She paused to hold the phone away from her ear so she could
laugh without embarrassing me and returned to the line. "Michael .." another
burst of laughter that I heard quite clearly. "Michael, you only need to iron
your dress pants and shirts."


Another burst of laughter. "Really, Michael! Just iron the dress shirts and

"What about my blankets and sheets? They take forever to get the wrinkles

Mum didn't hide her laughter this time. Between fits of laughter, she managed
to say, "Michael. just fold them and put them away."

I sighed. "Good! I was going crazy doing this housework." I said as a flush of
red spread over my face.

Mum laughed again. "Michael, you're just learning. Give it time.
You'll be OK."

We all have to learn.

Some lessons come the hard and embarrassing way.

Michael T. Smith