Fitted Sheets, Fitting In, Second Chances

by Kevin Burton

   You could call me a fitted sheet, with unquestioned utility, but hard deal with at times.

   Hard to come to grips with. I maybe don’t slip snugly into one of your convenient boxes, the ones that take that edge off, keep it all tidy clean.

   Surely you’ll never, ever take the time to read my tag, to find out anything about me.

   But if you did read the tag, by accident on a strange and troubling day, you would find no apologies there. Nope.

   I know what I’m doing. I have a purpose and I must be about it.  You are free to be about yours.

   A fitted sheet of course, deployed on a bed, is among the better inventions of man.  Trying to fold one, fold it well enough that it looks almost like the top sheet, well that is another story.

   I’ve seen lots of jokes about folding a fitted sheet. They end with wading the sheet into a ball and putting it in the bottom of a closet.

   At the school for the blind they taught us how to make beds using military corners on the sheets. But they taught us nothing about fitted sheets. We didn’t have them.

   It’s a Sunday night and I am folding a fitted sheet.  I did well enough and said to myself “good enough.” But then I thought to give it a second try.

   I try the second time because it’s my mother’s fitted sheet I am working with.  

   Long story. Her dryer went to appliance heaven just before the pandemic. We didn’t replace it right away. Then when the Covid wave hit, we didn’t want workers traipsing through her house. So I pick up loads of washed laundry sometimes and dry it in our dryer.

   That includes her fitted sheets. Sometimes it seems like she has nothing but fitted sheets.

   Eventually I put the fitted sheet on the pile of dry, folded laundry.  It doesn’t look quite right but I have done the best I could, as I have always done for mom, as she has always done for me.

   Well maybe not always.  Can any of us say always?  And isn’t that somehow the motive for my second try with the fitted sheet, in some small way, making up for ‘not always.’

   She will see the folded laundry sometime, probably not right away but when she needs it.  She won’t see it as an imperfect job done. She will see it as the work of her youngest son and be grateful. 

   Me, I just want her to sleep well.

   I have my own laundry to do of course.  Hers adds to my work load.

   But I am happy to have my mother’s laundry because I am very happy to have my mother. 

   My family has had three deaths from that generation in short order, most recently my father-in-law.  It reminds me that there will come a day when I long to fold fitted her sheets, but no longer do.

   We had another shock two weeks ago when we got a letter saying the house my mother is renting is being sold, and she will have to vacate. And soon.

   So I will lose the ability to walk two or three minutes to get to my mother’s house.  I hate that.

   We’re scrambling, trying to find her a place to live and figuring out what to do with her furniture, most of which probably will not fit into her next place.

   Some of the “solutions” come off like so many metaphorical fitted sheets. Time and other pressures, causing us to say, “good enough.”

   Take a look at what you have your hands on today at work and at play.  Don’t you find much of what you deal with comes off like so many fitted sheets? You’re making the best of things, doing what you can.  

   There are videos online showing that yes you can actually fold those sheets to look neat.  Makes me think of old dogs, new tricks and peaceful sleep.

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