“You don’t wash handmade braided rag rugs, you beat them,” I explained to my husband.

 Emil still turned up his nose at the once-handsome rug sticking out of the plastic sack on top of my luggage.

“I don’t care,” he replied. “It’s filthy. It smells, and it’s not coming into this house until it’s washed.”

To Me It’s An Heirloom

I thought to myself, “Well, you might be filthy and smelly too, if you’d been walked on for more than half a century in a drafty old farmhouse heated only with wood and coal,” but I didn’t say so.

Instead, I resorted to pleading, “But you don’t understand. Granny’s rag rug is a chapter from my childhood. I can remember watching her braid it for me more than 60 years ago. You see those light colored braids? Those were heavy cotton winter stockings that she had worn out. See those plum color strands? That was her old wool winter coat that got too thin and shabby to wear. Those dark strips? They are a pair of daddy’s old wool suit trousers.

“If you wash Granny’s rag rug, the colors might run together, or it might just fall apart and then how will I feel?”

But my argument was halfhearted because I realized Granny’s rag rug really was dirty.

Emil grabbed the sack as he headed for the back door, a bottle of dish soap tucked under his arm. Outside, I stood transfixed when the spray from the garden hose made contact with Granny’s rag rug. Black, sudsy water poured onto the concrete. Next the rivulets turned blood red and, gradually, a pale pink. After the runoff turned clear, Emil hung Granny’s rag rug on the fence in the summer sun.

By late afternoon, when Granny’s rag rug was dry, Emil brought it to me, triumphant. Granny’s rag rug was gorgeous! The colorfast strips were bright and clean and the color that had bled looked very artistic indeed. I sighed with relief.

“I am reminded of one of Granny’s favorite sayings,” I told him.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“Cleanliness is next to godliness.”

“You don’t wash handmade braided rag rugs, you beat them,” I explained to my husband.

 Emil still turned up his nose at the once-handsome rug sticking out of the plastic sack on top of my luggage.

“I don’t care,” he replied. “It’s filthy. It smells, and it’s not coming into this house until it’s washed.”

To Me It’s An Heirloom

I thought to myself, “Well, you might be filthy and smelly too, if you’d been walked on for more than half a century in a drafty old farmhouse heated only with wood and coal,” but I didn’t say so.

Instead, I resorted to pleading, “But you don’t understand. Granny’s rag rug is a chapter from my childhood. I can remember watching her braid it for me more than 60 years ago. You see those light colored braids? Those were heavy cotton winter stockings that she had worn out. See those plum color strands? That was her old wool winter coat that got too thin and shabby to wear. Those dark strips? They are a pair of daddy’s old wool suit trousers.

“If you wash Granny’s rag rug, the colors might run together, or it might just fall apart and then how will I feel?”

But my argument was halfhearted because I realized Granny’s rag rug really was dirty.

Emil grabbed the sack as he headed for the back door, a bottle of dish soap tucked under his arm. Outside, I stood transfixed when the spray from the garden hose made contact with Granny’s rag rug. Black, sudsy water poured onto the concrete. Next the rivulets turned blood red and, gradually, a pale pink. After the runoff turned clear, Emil hung Granny’s rag rug on the fence in the summer sun.

By late afternoon, when Granny’s rag rug was dry, Emil brought it to me, triumphant. Granny’s rag rug was gorgeous! The colorfast strips were bright and clean and the color that had bled looked very artistic indeed. I sighed with relief.

“I am reminded of one of Granny’s favorite sayings,” I told him.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“Cleanliness is next to godliness.”

Elaine Thomas
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