My Washing Machine Is All Washed Up

Appliances don't last forever, but when my Maytag washing machine shuddered through her final spin cycle today, I couldn't believe the end had come.

She hadn't been ailing, so her demise was sudden, shocking. "No!" I groaned when the repairman gave me the bad news. "Ma'am, she lasted 28 years," he told me. "You've got nothing to be sorry about."

At 28 years old, she was certainly a senior citizen in a world of planned obsolescence, but I guess I had taken her for granted. And now that she's gone, I am left high and dry with a pile of dirty clothes.


Model A712 she was, a smooth operator with a motor that never quit, who virtually snapped to attention as I flicked on the laundry room light and dropped an armful of clothes on the floor. If machines can hum their contentment, this one quietly did her job with no complaints about the long hours.

My aging beauty proved up to the task of whatever I threw at her: bibs with baby drool, baseball uniforms caked with sweat and mud, crumpled sheets and towels in sleepover aftermaths. My trusty Maytag ran flawlessly with barely a belt replacement for almost three decades.

She entered our lives in the hot and hazy summer of 1985, when I was eight months pregnant with child #2 and confined to bed for 10 weeks on account of premature labor. I had gone into labor the night Bobby got shot on "Dallas," but that's another story.

In the Why Does Everything Happen at Once department, we had to move into our new home right in the middle of this enforced bed rest. My husband and mother took over and forbade me to do anything but sit and watch until the bed was set up and I could lie down.

I fretted about not being able to shop for appliances, but I knew I wanted a Maytag washer and dryer because my mother swore by them. While I lay in bed trying not to contract, the appliances were ordered, delivered and installed.

It was a very long summer. Finally, on August 7 we had another delivery: our daughter Emily, a healthy 7 lb. 11 oz. bundle of joy.

If I'm being overly sentimental about a hunk of metal, it's only because of the history it represents, the years of our lives in laundry: from Osh Kosh B'Gosh overalls to wine-stained holiday tablecloths and summer camp apparel that came home barely recognizable and college t-shirts and hundreds of jeans.

I'll find a replacement for my Maytag, but I am pretty sure it won't last 28 years.