Sometimes the passages through life are found in the most unusual of places. In 1968, the year we were married, our first linen closet was filled with a mix-match of towels and washcloths we had received from well-wishing wedding guests. This was long before the coordinated efforts of registries became a common phenomenon that precedes today's unions. Hues of avocado green, gold and rust, stacked neatly on the shelf, served this family of four over the next twenty years. Poignant first days of kindergarten, dance recitals, first communions, and thousands of other life events of two children—who seemingly became teenagers overnight—were touched by those enveloping pieces of terrycloth. The next few years were filled with homecomings, ballgames, proms, and daily showers as our girls made their way through first loves, first heartbreaks, and the plethora of emotions that go with coming of age. Those tried and true inhabitants of our linen closet remained reliable, if somewhat ragged around the edges, throughout those wonder years.
In 1989, some twenty-one years later, I got my first “real job.” This, after eight years of attending college as a “non-traditional” student. I still remember the feeling of pure, unadulterated accomplishment when, upon cashing my first check, I went directly to a now-defunct linen store in our humble hometown and bought matching towels and washcloths. Peach and sea foam green, the “in” colors of the day, soon became the new residents of our linen closet. The old tenants, having served with admirable loyalty, were packed neatly away and moved to their new home in the basement.
And so began the next twenty-something years of service to this endlessly evolving family. College breaks, weddings, and the blessings of grandchildren have all been served well by those peach and green coordinates. Now, each washing continues to bring more and more loose threads, which have been patiently trimmed away in hopes of extending the useful life of these reliable friends. But the clock of life and the wear and tear of so many years has taken its toll, and, once again, it is time to move on. This time the hotshot upgrades are a deep, rich brown, warm caramel and soothing turquoise—the colors of the day.
Now, it's just the two of us. I suspect these twenty-first century newbies will be the last to occupy our linen closet. Hopefully, they will have a long and happy life here with us and keep us dry throughout our golden years. As for the avocado green, gold, and rust has-beens, they are frequently retrieved from their sedentary lives to once again serve this extended family. They tirelessly assist whenever there is a need for soft, absorbent cloths to catch paint drippings or polish brand, spanking-new stainless-steel appliances—proving once again that age is just a number.