My bladder badgered me out of bed at one in the morning. Relieved, I staggered in the dark back to my room, but could hear Dad’s voice coming from his. I tip-toed nearer, to hear. He was praying to God, his Heavenly Father, beloved, trusted, imploring on behalf of his posterity in their adversities and afflictions. “I find it so interesting,” he had told the young men of the Church, who brought him the sacramental bread and water last Sunday, that God, who is the Master of the Universe, the Creator and Overseer of over 100 billion galaxies each with more than 100 billion stars, yet he knows each one of us and nurses us gently along in our precept-by-precent learning. “He knows me.” Time after thousandth time He has made himself known to Dad in the course of his service to others, like when he saw in vision the widow sitting alone in a very dark house on Christmas Eve, dangerously depressed, and he hurried Mom and us children into their 1971 Dodge Dart and drove us to her house, where we found her exactly as he had seen, and we turned on her lamps, we handed her gifts, we set up a small Christmas tree with colored lights, and we talked to her and sang her a carol or two. Pure religion, indeed. I left Dad to his prayers and went back to bed, his faithful importuning stirring in my sleepy brain. The next morning, his CNA came early. Cecilia, Dad’s normal weekday assistant, could not come, and had sent Sophia in her place, a new face, a new voice, a new set of stories, someone else to train in the particulars of his care. Having a new CNA arrive, without warning, is upsetting to both Mom and Dad. They develop a trusting affection, a cheerful acquaintance, with the CNA’s. Dad develops a comfort level in his utter vulnerability with the CNA’s. With each new face, Mom and Dad must adjust and come to trust, again. Beside Cecilia, whom they love, there have come Leah, Beatrice, Shawn, Erin, Stacy, and Jen. Each has been pleasant, patient, and competent. They do their caregiving work without making Dad feel a single drop of shame. How grateful I am that every day they cheerfully help him out of bed, help him undress, shower, and dry off, help him dress, escort him downstairs, join him in Pilates, and make his breakfast of eggs and toast and Cheerios. I know a beautiful devoted woman with a bearded dragon for a pet who did all this and more for her dying father—she gave all the love and energy her spirit could muster, and more, and took months to recover her sense of self, yet still grateful she could serve her gentle, beloved father. What strength. Trying to avoid Mom’s and Dad’s attention in a quiet moment, I tip-toed into the garage and turned the lights on, searching for a tool for my little crafty project, when Mom poked her head into the garage, saying nothing, not seeing me, then turned the lights off and closed the door. I stood inconspicuously in the corner, with the tools, unconcerned until I heard the deadbolt turn. Then I sprang into action and pounded furiously at the door to be let back in. She had not shuffled far, and soon opened the door. I had overreacted, obviously, with my dramatic pounding. How easy it would have been for me to open the garage door and enter the house from the main entrance. At worst, I could ring the doorbell. Mom let me in, shocked and sheepish. Later she grabbed my hand and with tears in her eyes apologized for having locked me in the garage, and I rued my reaction.
(Pictured above, Mom’s completed book of 108 word search puzzles. She is making inroads into the new puzzle book.)