I say to my husband as we watch TV in the living room.
He’s in one Lazy Boy. I’m in the other..
“Do you want me to go this time?” he asks sincerely.
“No. I got it,” I respond as I snap the
foot rest closed and stand from the comfort of the
chair. I check in on her and then pass through the
living room and into the kitchen.
OK?” my husband asks in a hushed tone.
“Yep. Just getting her some water,” I respond quietly.
I walk by his chair. He catches my hand and
“You OK?” he asks, his eyes
searching behind my facade.
“Yep,” I say and
squeeze back tightly. I take the water to her room
and put it on her bedside. She’s fallen back
asleep already. I sit in the rocking chair next to
her bed and gently caress her hand.
What an awesome hand. This perfect,
strong hand. This hand planted hundreds of tulip
bulbs and picked just as many apples. It held
hymnals, played the organ, knitted socks for WWII
soldiers – countless socks, cross-stitched; cooked;
collected coal and potatoes for survival. This
hand held and cared for three children into adulthood.
It changed diapers, cleaned up vomit….saved my life.
A simple gold band on a finger of
this hand symbolizes 42 years of devotion and care to
one man. It is beautiful to me. I look more
closely. When did all these wrinkles appear?
Where did those blue and gray protruding veins come
from? Why are these nails yellow? Why isn’t
this the strong hand I know? Who changed hands on
me? Why are these hands so soft and frail-looking?
What happened to the strong woman these hands belonged
to? Who is this meek woman in the bed next to my
chair? I can see a touch of that feisty auburn
hair but the rest of this woman’s hair is white.
When did that happen?
She’s waking. This woman’s
eyes look tired and worn, and gray. What happened
to those vibrant blue eyes? Why is she looking at
me? What’s this stranger trying to say? She
seems to know me from some distant memory.
“Mom!” I want to scream.
“Come jump rope with me!” “Mom! I’ll race
you across the pool!” “Mom! Push me on the
stranger waves her hand toward the wastebasket. I
pick it up and put it by her mouth. I go to the
other side of the bed to lift her gently into a sitting
position. She vomits. I grab a tissue from
the bedside table and wipe her mouth with one hand.
My other hand caresses her back. She lies back
down. I wipe a damp cloth across her forehead and
kiss her lightly. She closes her eyes. I tie
a knot in the bag to mask the foul-smell and carry it to
the garage to discard it.
“Mom!” I hear. I
move quickly down the hall to the next room.
“What is it honey?” I ask.
“Nothing. I was just scared” my daughter responds.
I move next to her bed, stroke her hair with my hand and
gently kiss her forehead. “There’s nothing to be
scared of,” I whisper as she slowly falls
back to sleep.
to our weekly e-newsletter