The Irish Don't Use Washcloths


The Irish Don't Use Washcloths

wash-bowl-1253905_640I've learned some things these past few years about my parents that I didn't during my first 50 years with them.

One interesting tidbit is that the Irish don't use washcloths or so my mom, a daughter of two Irish immigrants, says.
I'm not sure when she first said this but I'm sure it was during a hospitalization or a decline. I must have been helping her with a shower and offered her a washcloth. "The Irish don't use washcloths," she said. "My mother didn't use washcloths and they don't use washcloths in Europe."

About a month ago, my dad told me he had an infection on his head, the spot where he had his plastic surgery after having skin cancer removed. His dermatologist had suggested my dad use a warm compress on top of his head, something he actually has been doing for years. He followed the instructions faithfully because when I arrived for visits, he would have a washcloth on top of his head. (I shared a photo of my dad with a washcloth on his head for our January 2015 First Photo Project.)

When he told me he had an infection on top of his head, I couldn't figure out how he got it. Where did it come from?

On a subsequent visit, I figured it out. Laying on the kitchen counter was a used washcloth, nearly folded and ready for its next use.

A few minutes later, I asked, "Dad, do you use a clean washcloth every time you put a washcloth on your head?"

Both my parents had the same ah-ha moment.

I continued, "It's a good idea to use a clean one every time," I added. "I think your immune system isn't what it used to be."

My dad stretched out his arms, full of bruises and a rash from dry skin. "You think?" he answered.

When we started thinking about my dad's yeast infection, we went back to the washcloths. "Dad, do you use a clean washcloth to watch around your stoma in the shower?"

I think we're zeroing in on a washcloth problem.

During the nurses's visit on Saturday, we talked again about having clean washcloths ready and available. My mom explained to the nurse, "The Irish don't use washcloths."

Yesterday, I arrived at my parents' apartment ahead of the visiting nurse. My dad was at the kitchen sink, washing out a dirty wash cloth so the visiting nurse could use it.

I took my time before finally suggesting, "Could we call downstairs and ask them to bring up more clean washcloths?" (The staff cleans the apartment twice a week, which includes switching out old towels for new.)

My mom, quick to the phone, said, "We're getting more washcloths."

The Irish are now using clean washcloths.