Perhaps something changed in me during the short months I spent in the hospital, doing what the nurses wouldn’t do. Carefully and with care, washing my mother, cleaning the diarrhea off her bottom and telling her over and over again, “Mama, please don’t apologize. You did this for me when I couldn’t and you would do it for me again in a heartbeat.”
Then a year and a half after she died, I was washing my newborn son and wiping his bottom. I thought again of all that my mother did for me and I cleaned him gladly and gratefully.
When our boy was 5 years old, we got a puppy. I drove 13 hours to pick up a black standard poodle pup and bring her home. Not knowing how tall she would be, I brought too small a carrier. She was sick the whole way back home but my son was happy. He had his puppy. He named her Franki, which upset the breeder–such a glamorous “girl” poodle given a “boy” dog’s name.
We have had Franki for 14 years. She is old. She can’t stand on slick floors anymore because her legs go out from under her. She leaves loose stools in the house because she can’t hold her bowels. When she is outside, she suddenly runs around the house for no reason that we can discern. We rush after her but then she goes wandering up to the backdoor. My husband complains about cleaning up after her, but I don’t mind. This soul has given us love for years and years now. She watched us fight and cry and laugh and came to lick our wounds or leap with joy, whatever we needed at that moment. She defended our house and let her boy lay on her, just because he is her boy.
I am connecting the dots as I clean up the mess…I am grateful that I can do this again.