Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My mother and stairs

With all this falling up and down steps that I've mentioned in The Fat Lady Singeth, my sister reminded me of something that my mother endured that was very similar.

About 8 years before my mother died, she fell down the cellar steps -- the laundry was in the basement, and she tumbled down the last few steps on day when she was going down with a basket of dirty laundry, and broke her hip.

My dear, frail, mother -- how she did the laundry in the basement when she was in her late 70s I'll never understand anyway, but she did. She'd get the clothes down the steps and then start the washer, climb the steps, work around the house for an hour or so, then descend the steps again, and put the clothes in the dryer. After another hour of piddling around the house, she'd go back down those steps, and fold the clothes that were in the dryer.

Now those steps were not carpeted. They were rickety, old, wooden steps with open sides and backs; typical, I suppose of unfinished basement steps. There was a handle or stair railing, but it was not something I would place my life upon as an upholder of my girth. Of course, mom was such a little thing, that I suppose that railing was strong enough for her.

Well, one day she fell. After that incident -- since the washer and dryer were in the basement, and laundry does pile up -- after her hip healed enough for her to be able to go up and down steps again, she would go down those steps backward, crawling down the steps as a baby does when it is first learning to climb and go down stairs. Then she would crawl up the steps, much like a baby does, again, when a baby is first learning to climb stairs.

I hadn't known about this because I was no longer living in Runnemede. But, apparently that's how she did the laundry.

One additional note -- Alan asked how she got the laundry back up the stairs (I'm assuming she just threw it down the steps, forget a laundry basket). I told him, the same way I did it before we got the elevator -- put the laundry basket about three steps in front of you, climb a couple of steps then move the basket up a few more steps, and keep climbing until you get the basket and yourself to the top.


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