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Deployed Living - Part II, the laundry fairy

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Tracy L. DeMarco
  • 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
I've officially adopted the pseudo name "laundry fairy." This official title of fluffy-folded goodness did not come from my own imagination; rather I heard it from one of my dorm-mates as she beamed while describing a miraculous laundry folding incident.

I don't know why I like folding laundry. Maybe it reminds me of growing up and helping my mother with the wash--hanging it out on the clothesline, rushing to pull it down before it rained and folding it into piles of sorted-softness for all our family members.

Growing up on a black and red Angus cattle ranch in Wyoming, my childhood was filled with chores. My parents had six children and dad often said that we were his ranch hands. As a pre-teen and teenager, this seemed unfair. I would watch the neighbor boys playing basketball while I pulled barbed wire helping my dad fix fence. But as a young adult I began to understand just how valuable my childhood was for my future.

The training instructors at basic training paled in comparison to my dad who demanded our best efforts every Saturday morning as we built barns, pitched hay or drove up into the mountains of South Dakota to collect wood to heat our home. Cleaning the barracks, shining my boots or folding my T-shirts into perfect six-inch squares was simple. Basic was a breeze.

When I graduated basic training and received the job of photographer, one of my first thoughts was, "They are going to pay me to take pictures? Awesome." Later in my career when I began to tote the title of noncommissioned officer and I would hear my young Airmen complain about a weekend photo shoot, I would immediately think, "They pay you to take pictures!"

What my parents taught me, I've attempted to pass on to every Airman I've ever supervised; that hard work is rewarded with self-satisfaction, accomplishment and results.

The clear result from folding someone else's laundry is that I get to use a dryer sooner, which gets my clothes dry quicker. I recall a particular Sunday when I folded two loads of warm wardrobes for two women that are practically strangers to me. I placed my final load of wet linens in the now open dryer and went to take a quick shower before church. After my shower I went back to the laundry room to retrieve my items and they were tossed on top of the dryer in a ball. At least they were dry, but they certainly weren't folded.

What does that make me? I'm either the "laundry fairy" or an idiot.

Perhaps the reason I like folding laundry is because it reminds me of home. That place away from my deployment where my daughters and husband reside, making their way without me.

Almost every mother in the world might agree with me that being a mom, caring for the house, dressing the kids, making the meals and folding the laundry is a thankless job at times. However, it is the job I long to do for the rest of my life. Approximately six months from retirement, I dream of being a stay-at-home mom. Then it will be my daughters helping me with the wash. Maybe I can instill in them what my mother and father taught me, if I'm lucky.

For now, the "laundry fairy" lives. She swoops in and folds to her heart's content. Once, I even got caught by another senior noncommissioned officer who quickly thanked me and took her half-folded load of clothes to her room. But be warned, just like my mom laid claim to all money she found in the washer and dryer, I may keep your AAFES pogs!