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Posts tagged ‘witnessing’

The Scent of Dying

As I slowly mourn, I am in the house where I grew up and where I cared for my father in his last days. The house has become an altar…I remember the scents of his dying. Read more

Last Breath

I continue writing about helping my father as he completed his life. At this posting my father has already died, but this piece and the following few posts concern his end days.

December 31
He snuck that last breath by me. It was a soft little breath.

For a day and a half he had been curled against the raised bed and mounds of pillows, his head tilted and turned to the right so he wouldn’t choke on secretions and on the morphine tucked and massaged into his cheek. Read more

Winter Night

From writings about helping my father as he completes his life.

All the to-ing and fro-ing from caregiving his ADLs has enflamed my chronic act-up-under-duress injury. I feel like a parolee; I can only go a few steps before a skewer pierces my trochanter, my IT band, my quads. I lie down and tuck the pain under a heating pad. My brother brings me a set of crutches which help. Ibuprofen helps. Not walking helps. It’ll heal but not tomorrow or the next day. Read more

I Become an Angel

From writings about helping my father as he completes his life.

I slide my arm under his shoulders to move him gently onto the pillows. He is all skewed and will wake with a crick in his neck if he sleeps too long that way. As I move him, he opens his eyes and gazes at me. Pure pure pure love. He smiles. All his face arranges itself around the feeling of happiness. Read more

Papery Hand

From writings about helping my father as he completes his life.

I kiss his dry cheek this morning, hold his papery hand. The vinegar smell, the smell that always worries me, the scent of something fermenting, turning, is gone. Today he smells clean and strong despite his bones rising up to the skin. Read more

Caregiving is Detail

From writings about helping my father as he completes his life.

Caregiving is detail. As detailed, nonverbal, and spatial as dance. Our ace guy is Jermaine Cardoza who comes three or four times a week to give Dad a head to toe sponge bath. Washing 180 pounds of deadweight or rigid body is no easy gig, but Jermaine extends both his hands with ease, gives a one word cue, “Stand,” and my father places his hands in Jermaine’s. With a wisp of effort, Jermaine leans slightly back and Dad rises out of his chair. No muscling. No grabbing under his armpits to drag him up. Read more

There Will be Absence

From writings about helping my father as he completes his life.

Late night. Alone in my bed. The wind sighs heavily in the maple trees, sifting through branches with fewer and fewer leaves to rustle. The sound sits on me. I feel my feelings. Windows of connection with my father shrink. There are no longer infinite moments. I digest this. I feel this. Read more

Dragonfly

From writings about helping my father as he completes his life.

I am a Dragonfly
I have no waking moment I am not watching Dad, helping him, but I have found sizable chinks in the fabric of our day to do self-focused movement. This then helps me to do every other physical action as a ‘dance’–lifting his legs, washing his hands. Read more

On the Pitching Deck

From writings about helping my father as he completes his life.

Stepping
Getting from one chair to another. Five steps. Pushing down on the arms of the chair, engaging his shaking thighs, standing in a crumple, and inching one foot forward, then the other, grasping a table edge, a doorknob, the stepping stones of the room. He knows every bump and outcropping of furniture and makes his way like an old mariner on a pitching deck. Read more

Mesa, August

I opened the lid on my huge water tank and dipped a little pitcher in to get hot hot sun-heated water. Then I sat naked in a green plastic chair in the late afternoon heat-of-the-day on the Barn’s south side shaving my legs. I fully groom my body in sections–shaving pits one day, legs another, washing hair periodically. Read more