Sunday, January 08, 2006

The "is there anything I can do for you" sweater

So--this is the sweater that Stephen's sister gave him for Christmas. He hasn't been able to wear it because it smelled so strongly of lanolin. I think she bought it on a trip to the British Isles. How does it end up in my bathtub? Well--this is a possible result of an open ended offer to help out. How many times have I asked friends who are going through tough times, "Is there anything I can do to help? Is there anything you need?" And how many times have I been let down?--there is nothing for me to do to ease their pain, or to make their lives easier. So when I made my offer to Stephen after he was in a car accident that broke both his shoulders, I was a bit surprised (but pleasantly so) that he mentioned this sweater and maybe I could wash it for him so he could wear it and get warm--he's always cold.
I knew I was committing to a lot of time and work when I lifted the sweater--it was heavy! But this was actually something I could do--so it was great.
When I got home I looked at the sweater closely--it was really well made and beautiful--but spun in the grease--so it was heavy with lanolin and some vegetable matter. It took 2 Sundays to get it clean--the first one took 9 tubs of water for three washes and two rinses each--and I ran out of hot water so had to stop. I let it dry through the week and then returned to washing it the next Sunday when I had time again and finally it smelled good and wasn't sticky with grease. It took another week to dry completely (laid out on the guest bed with towels and underneath that a shower curtain to protect the bed from the moisture. I spun it out in the washer to get all the water out. Stephen was really happy with the sweater and finally I feel like my offer to actually do something meaningful for someone in need was taken seriously!
The other night Liz was leaving work and she sounded like she had a lot to do and I started to offer--is there anything I can do? and then I turned it quickly into a offer to wash her was so funny! Posted by Picasa

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