I love dishes.

I love dishes.

From delicate fine china to stoneware, they seem to call to me. I'd own many more sets, but for storage space. I am presently taken with a brightly colored, made-in-America brand whose creation predates me by only a few years. My subject, however, is not the dishes themselves, but the washing of them.

So many memories from my life — both funny and tragic — circulate around doing the dishes.

I recall helping my mother wash dishes when I was 9 years old while my two younger sisters (ages 4 and 5) cut each other's hair with school safety scissors.

I recall a certain sister's ever-inventive ways of skipping out on her turn at the sink.

As a teenager, I would blast the old wooden radio from top of the refrigerator and use the door handle of said refrigerator to spin myself around as I danced to the latest rock and roll, while washing supper dishes for our family of six.

I have a sister who keeps dishwater always at the ready when she has someone over for a visit. Hold on to your coffee cup, and don't dare leave the room, or you will find that cup gone from the table, washed and back in the cupboard again!

I also remember when my daughter passed away unexpectedly at age 13 from cardiomyopathy. Those were days of sadness, chaos and so much confusion about how such a thing might make any sense. My husband and I consoled one another, and we reached out for strength from our higher power.

Friends and neighbors were kind, and came with their condolences, bringing casseroles, pies and everything imaginable, and sometimes stayed with us to make sure we did, in fact, eat something.

Needless to say, this created dishes to wash, and it was with my hands in the soothing, warm, soapy water that I could find something that seemed normal. It was then, while I was doing this mundane task that required no thought or decision, that my mind was free to travel where it would; and I could try to make sense of pulling only three plates instead of four from the cupboard to set the table, look for peace, and cherish the memories that were as plentiful as the bubbles in the suds.

I've always loved the look and feel of a clean kitchen, with the dishes done and put away after a meal, and I still find that it provides some of my best thinking time.

Oh, I have an electric dishwasher in my kitchen, as most of us do in these times, but so many great solutions and ideas come to me even as I rinse the dishes to put them in the machine.

My advice, keep your hand lotion ready; and I hope you find your own solace in the suds! I can't wait to see what comes next. Perhaps it's time for a trip to the Coast!

Colleen McDonald lives in Medford.