“She Washed a Mean Load of Laundry”

Posted January 29, 2015 by jimhigley

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Work with me on this one. I need to talk a bit about something sad. But then you’ll smile. I promise.

My mom died when I was 14. It happened suddenly – getting sick and all. Two weeks before she died she was she same old Mom my four brothers and I always knew. A selfless, tireless, hold-it-all-together (mostly!) kind of mom. Blue ribbon material.

Her death knocked the wind out of my town.

And in the weeks following her death, I remember spending many hours – along with my brothers – helping our dad compose handwritten thank you notes to what seemed like hundreds of people. A surreal experience for sure. And – as families do – we often shared what we were writing. Just to make sure we got a name correct. Or double-check that we were thanking the right person for the properly-described casserole which was still in our freezer.

Words. We were spitting out words of gratitude like an assembly line.

But it was my father’s words – which he read out loud to those of us sitting at the table one night – that I’ll never forget.

“She washed a mean load of laundry,” were his opening words. After which he went on to describe the precise qualities that the 14-year-old version of me knew to be my mom. She brought enthusiasm, joy, commitment, and care to her every day tasks. The cooking. The grocery shopping. The laundry. The ironing (yes, she ironed daily). She was a stay-at-home mom and just about the most fulfilled human being you’d ever want to know.

Largely because, I think, she took pride in what she did. And she knew the value of her caring touch for the people she loved most.

And that’s my point of reference for the rest of this story.


Earlier this month I attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas – where I had the opportunity to be a spokesperson for Whirlpool. You may read my story before CES where I talked about going to the show.

I’m a Whirlpool guy. I wouldn’t have accepted the project were I not. My kitchen is full of their appliances. So I was excited to head out west – and absorb all the new things technology is making possible.

But a funny thing happened while I was there: all I could think about was my mom. Nearly 40 years after her passing.

My mom. And the Consumer Electronics Show. What an odd couple. The most high tech things we had in our house were a dimmer switch on our dining room light fixture and an egg timer.

But she was there in spirit- throughout the Whirlpool booth – because of the mission and vision that guides everything Whirlpool does.

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Every day, care.

Not just some clever words. More of a commitment to helping people care for others – based on a foundational belief that every chore a person does is an act of love.

Mom couldn’t have said it better.

And when we place value on the care we give others – then the little, sometimes mundane chores of life have value.

Come back tomorrow. I’ll tell you more about some of the cool techy things I learned. In the meantime – and in the spirit of Mom – I’m going to go make the family a mean pot of soup.


This post is part of a branded collaboration with Whirlpool – who has compensated me for my services.