It had been a while since I had visited my sister Tina.
Usually we had an unwritten rule that we would
call first before just dropping in without warning.
But last week I simply felt propelled to
stop by her house and catch up on
the latest family news and gossip.
I couldn't have picked a better time.
She desperately needed my help.
What I found when I walked into
the front door was totally shocking.
I rubbed my eyes and took a deep breath.
I couldn't believe it.
“What on earth are you doing ?”
I gasped in almost a whisper.
“Ironing,” she smiled,
looking at me as though
nothing was wrong.
I almost fainted.
Speechless, I watched her
press and slide the hot iron
over a variety of clothing,
lining up her white shirts
and blouses like stiff white soldiers,
steaming wrinkled dress pants
into pairs of pure perfection.
“How long has this been going on ?”
I asked, almost embarrassed.
She finally parked the iron upright
and looked at me, her pitiful hands
molded gracefully into the shape
of the Sunbeam Express Glide.
Still she pretended nothing was wrong
and asked me what I was talking about.
“The ironing, Tina. My gosh, I had no idea!
Nobody irons anymore.”
And then I added,
“It's a cry for help.”
“But what about the wrinkles ?” she blushed.
“You throw the whole mess into the dryer
for five or ten minutes, give 'em a quick shake,
and you're good to go.
Or buy some of that new wrinkle spray.
It works wonders,” I explained.
She continued to ignore the fact
that she had a problem.
But I could see it clearly.
It was definitely an ironing addiction.
Thank God I arrived when I did.
She picked up the iron once again
and started steaming and starching,
obviously trying to avoid the truth.
She began smiling and talking
about some movie she just saw
till finally I just couldn't take it any more.
“Stop it! Stop it!” I cried,
pulling her into tight hug under my chin.
“I'm here for you now
and I will make sure you get help.
We'll make certain that this never happens again.”
I was in tears as I pulled her aside.
I slapped the huge ironing board off its feet
and into the dumpster and carried
the warm iron to the back porch,
sailing it across the yard with a big lasso of its cord.
“Seriously. This is for best.
You will thank me someday,” I assured her,
then immediately demanded that she
rid the house of spray starch,
and trouser guards.
“It's the only way, “ I whispered,
petting her head as I held her tightly
and rocked her ever so gently.
It was emotionally draining
to see my little sister have to suffer
the withdrawal, but a week later
she seemed to be doing better.
Or at least I thought so
until I made another surprise visit.
There was no trace of
the ironing paraphernalia,
but she was sitting cross-legged
on the floor in front of a
spread out newspaper
with five pair of shoes lined up before her.
“Oh, sweetie, what are you doing now?” I wept.
she smiled up at me innocently...
And she never even realized
I was getting ready to save her life again.
(Originally posted Aug. 6, 2009)