Picking Up Lint

By Mary Potter

February 10, 2020

Picking Up Lint

My dad was an exacting man. When he ran a motor assembly plant in Belgium, he plastered the shop floor, break rooms, and bathrooms with signs that urge-warned in Flemish, WHAT YOU DO, DO IT RIGHT! At home he was equally demanding. He paid us five kids to pull dandelions, a penny per weed, payable only if the full tendriled root was attached. We worked until not one yellow dot marred his green world. Inside, he did his own relentless weeding. Walking to the fridge, crossing the den, climbing the stairs, he’d bend down and pinch the offender between thumb and index finger—an errant thread, cookie crumb, shred of paper, speck of dirt, stiffened sliver of skin he’d picked off his eczema-scathed feet while reading. I see him as a young father, his beautiful swimmer’s shoulders and carved biceps swooping to gather his prize; in his prime, grimacing as he bends deliberately, resting gingerly on one knee to protect his herniated discs; ravaged by Alzheimer’s, painstakingly lowering himself to all fours. “Dad! Mom just vacuumed!” I teased when young. “Dad, stop obsessing! Who needs a perfectly clean floor?” I scolded later. “I’ll get that, Dad,” I soothed before he died. Now, when one of my long white hairs or a dried bit of skin ripped from my soles or the tiniest tuft of lint catches my eye, I don’t ignore it; I gather it, gladly. For my body bending returns my father to me, resurrected in my flesh.


Mary Lane Potter is the author of the novel A Woman of Salt and Strangers and Sojourners: Stories from the Lowcountry. 


Photo courtesy of S. Hermann and F. Richter from Pixabay.

comments powered by Disqus « Back to Beautiful-Things

Newsletter Sign Up

shadow shadow