I was lucky enough to grow up in the seventies. Life was very different then. I was the oldest of two girls at that time with a hard-working, stay-at- home mom and a blue collar, hard-working father. Life for my family was very routine; not too much out of the ordinary came our way. In 1970, my sister, Debra, and I enjoyed playing outside with neighborhood children during the day and watching our favorite TV sitcoms in the evenings as a family. Daddy was off from work on Saturdays, which was yard mowing day and Sundays, which was reserved for visiting grandparents after attending mass at our Catholic Church parish.
1972 brought big changes to our family when my parents purchased my mother’s parents’ home. Most of the routines stayed the same, but at a different address with different neighborhood friends, stores, church and school. Since it was previously my grandparents’ home, I settled in to my new world very quickly.
My mother was meticulous when it came to housecleaning. In those days children were usually forced to play outdoors as housewives wanted to keep the house as clean and neat as possible awaiting their husband’s return from work. Of course we did not have video games and the technology of today. We enjoyed playing tag, hopscotch and catching doodle bugs. We ran into the house at noon to get a quick bite of lunch, then it was back outside until we saw Daddy pull into the drive in his red plumbing truck.
My dad’s trade was plumbing. He returned at the end of each day smelling like galvanized pipe; his green uniform turned black with mud and sweat. Looking back now, I find it funny that he was not allowed in mom’s house either! Located at the back of our home was an old wash shed. It housed a washer and dryer as well as a toilet, sink and shower. Living in south Louisiana, the wash shed was always musty and humid. As kids playing outside, we frequented the shed for a quick restroom stop. The concrete floor was always wet and the lighting was extremely poor. I imagine kids today would be horrified to have to use such facilities; however, back in those days, we thought nothing of it. My dad ended his work day each day with a shower in the wash shed.
I can still remember my mom opening the back door of the house and handing my dad a stack of clean clothes, towels and soap. We continued playing in the back of our house as dad took his shower. He exited the wash room smelling of Irish Spring Soap, clean and refreshed. We could now all enter mom’s domain and start our nighttime routine of supper, bath, TV and bed.
Dad’s use of the wash shed was a humble and loving way to show respect to my mother and all the hard work she did in keeping house. As I recall these special memories, it reminds me that one day we all hope to enter God’s home and just like my Daddy, we should want to enter clean and refreshed. Our Loving Father in Heaven gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation from which He pours His Grace upon us and washes us clean.
The following was written in Saint Faustina’s diary: “Today the Lord said to me, Daughter, when you go to confession, to this fountain of My Mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in My Mercy with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My Grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of Mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My Generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls.”
By the time my two youngest sisters were born, mom and dad had remodeled our new home and tore down the old wash shed. Dad started up his own plumbing business, driving a white van and wearing a blue uniform. He continued to work hard, and at the end of each work day he retired to his new master bath to shower off the day’s sweat and grime. He and my mother, without knowing it, were a great witness to this first-born, who is now a mother and grandmother herself, of the humbleness and respect of admitting a need for cleansing. We are all sinners, we are all in need of God’s Mercy and Grace. Jesus left us a visible Sacrament whereby we can obtain these gifts if we humble ourselves and enter the “wash shed” of the confessional.
John 20:22-23 “He breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain, are retained.”