Sunday, April 18, 2010

a bath and an artichoke

I wish I could express to you how honored I felt to bathe Phid, with the help of the CNA, of course, in the monster jacuzzi tub they have at Pikes Peak Hospice. It is an amazing piece of machinery. To see it in action made me momentarily super grateful to be living in the first world in the twenty-first century.

While I was washing her hair, trying to be gentle, she said, "Oh, Sue, give it a good scrub!" So I dug my fingertips into her scalp, and massaged the heck out of it. Then I rinsed off the shampoo with the shower nozzle and watched the water cascade over her face and neck and shoulders and I could imagine how cleansing that must feel. After a good long bubbly bath, and a washing of the feet, we swaddled her in about a dozen warm blankets, wheeled her back to her room, and applied lotion all over her 83-year-old body. The CNA (also named Sue) and I worked well together, as she is one of those people who recognizes that she is not just doing a job, but performing a sacred duty.

After Phid was all tucked into her fresh linens (the bed seemed to miraculously make itself while we were in the tub room) and about to slumber off, she opened her eyes, looked straight at me, and asked, "What about my arteechock?"


She had mentioned wanting an artichoke twice before, and we just hadn't done it yet! I told her I'd go right away and make her one. I'd be back at 6:30. I bought three artichokes at Safeway, while a friend explained on the phone how to prepare and cook them. I had never cooked an artichoke before.

At 6:15 I called her and she answered with a smile behind her voice: "Artichokes take longer than you thought, don't they?" Yes, they do. I told her I was picking Sarah up at 7:15 and I would be there at 7:30 with her artichoke and her daughter!

Sarah and I "set the table", placed the mayonnaise and melted butter nearby, and let her at it. It was a pleasure to watch her hands, as they nimbly performed the duty they had obviously done so many times in the past. Sarah and I shared another. Then John and the boys showed up with grilled Korean steak from a neighbor's barbecue. I tore some of the tender meat into little pieces for her, and she devoured them ever so slowly. Then the strawberries she had ordered three hours ago finally arrived!

After living on toast, a few bites of tomato soup and a few spoonfuls of pomegranate applesauce for a couple of days, this meal was a veritable feast!


Eva Syrovy said...

My regret: I wish I'd met her when I had the chance. She sounds wonderful. She sounds like she's leaving much, much too soon!

b carstenium said...

Beautiful Sue! A sacred duty is a remarkable way to see your shared emotional and physical experience with Phid. It is amazing to catch a glimpse of your very full world. XO B

sgtoulouse said...

Oh Sue....what a treasure for you to be spending this time with her.....for both of you. I really love reading your words...