So, my mother said to me, the other day, “When I die, are you going to start renting out this house to other people?” She is staying in a little house down the driveway from ours.

“I haven’t thought about it,” I replied, hedging. Obviously I don’t like it when she talks about dying.

“Well, you should take the washer dryer up to your house before you rent it to anyone.”

“The washing machine…?”

“Yes," she said. "I don’t know why you put it in this house. You have to come all the way down here every time you want to do your laundry.”

“We put it down here so we could all share....” We put it down here so we’d have another excuse to hang out with you. We put it down here because we are afraid you’ll become bedridden and incontinent.

“Well," she said, "that’s very nice of you, but after I die I don’t want to have to worry about you not having a washer dryer.”

“Mom,” I told her. “Please.” She’s had Alzheimer’s since the mid 1990’s, she’s just been diagnosed with what looks like jaw cancer, and she’s eighty-nine years old. She has enough on her mind without worrying about our laundry.

“So you’ll take it back up to your house?”

“Mom, when you die, I’m burying the washer dryer with you.”

“Don’t be silly.”

“I don’t want to have to worry about your dirty clothes when you’re in heaven.” (I don’t really believe in heaven, and neither does she, but I know she will humor me.)

“Clothes don’t get dirty in heaven,” she said, staring at a tall Douglas fir outside the window. “Clothes are always clean in heaven.”

“They are?”

“Yes. They have angels there who do all the laundry. Now, isn’t that a lovely tree? What kind of tree is that?”

mom in trees