Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Strenuous Day

“Where is Ethiopia?”

This unexpected question pops out of Bea’s mouth in the middle of a coughing fit that hits with the force of yesterday’s gale winds. I hold a tissue below her mouth and wait. She is positioned as straight as possible, the way Nurse Jane once suggested.

“I want you to spit it out,” I order. Touchy-feely, I am not. “No more talk. You need to concentrate. Now spit!”

Bea coughs hard again and succeeds in releasing a thick glob of bubbly phlegm. I do my best to collect it in the tissue, a chore that makes me gag.

“How about Ruth?” Bea asks, much less concerned by her condition than me.

“Ruth?”

“How about inviting her over for a drink?” Before I can answer, she has moved on to another idea: “So many thin things.”

“What thin things?”

“I don’t know, dear.” She is peering up at the rafters but now turns her head to bestow a soft angelic smile that makes me feel all fuzzy inside. “So good to have you here.”

I give a quick kiss and rush off to the kitchen for warm beef broth.

“Can you do it with me?” she asks as soon as I return.

“Do what?”

“Greet my husband.”

“He was here?”

Bea is coughing again. She nods, then leans forward slightly and spits into another tissue.

At times like these, I feel out of my depth. I think of all the caregivers who have such duties daily. How grateful I am that Bea has been healthy! It must be so much harder to care for an elderly bedridden person who is not.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad I found your blog,,,,I too, took care of my mother up until last year, when I had to place her into long-term care, at the age of 85, as I was no longer able to take care of her 24/7. I am also bringing up my 2 grandkids of 11 and 8, so it was impossible.
I too,,,,made up a folder of all the songs that my mother loved, and I would sit next to her bed and sing them,,,,,Oh, Susanah,,,,,and her favorite,, Beautiful, beautiful brown eyes'..Oh Danny Boy,,,,,,When Irish Eye's are Smiling..... and so many others!
I too,,am not a 'touchy-feely' person,,,,,what you don't get, you can't give, but I've tried in the past year, to rub my mother's hands, to kiss her cheek each and every time I visit. And now, I can finally see the love in my mother's eyes.
Thank you for reminding me. All care-givers are wonderful, but they need caring too.
Thank you. Matty.

5:12 PM  
Blogger The Scribe said...

Hi, I haven't 'visited' in a while. Just wanted to say that I hope your holiday was peaceful.
Rhea
The Boomer Chronicles

5:41 PM  
Blogger Karyn said...

It is astonishing to me how Bea's time with you at her bedside mirror my own caregiving experience. Further strange is how this has left me feeling close to you in spirit, as well as geography.

Time is short. Squeeze in (or out) as much of that warm fuzzy stuff as you can; regrets live a long time too.

You all are thought of - often and fondly...

8:15 PM  

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