When I called my parents last week, my dad asked if I could come up a day early. He was going to need my help with mom. As I'm not working, I really had no reason not to go a day early, so I said yes.
My dad wanted to be sure I was strong enough to guide my mom to the bathroom, so he could man their booth at the flea market. So, when I arrived on Friday, my dad let me do a test run with my mom to the bathroom.
I held her hands and walked backwards to the bathroom. We did fine together. We got to the bathroom and my mom said "you'll have to lift up my nightgown." I did, and asked my mom if it was up far enough. She said, "Yes, and now you can see my powder puffs."
Powder puffs. This is what she calls her buttocks. And I couldn't help but find myself feeling both amused and sad.
I can't imagine what it must be like for her to have lost so much of her independence. She can't walk on her own, and now is confined to the couch downstairs. She can't get upstairs to her bedroom. She can't get to the bathroom on her own. She isn't even able to wear regular clothes any more - nightgowns are the only thing she can wear, and I think my dad actually changes them for her, as she can't put one on by herself any more.
But in her loss of independence, I see how much my dad loves my mom. He is so patient with her and loving. He changes her nightgowns. He takes her to the bathroom. He no longer sleeps in his room, and now he sleeps on the recliner downstairs so that if my mom needs to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, he's there to guide her.
He doesn't complain, and yet I know this has got to be a strain on him. He's older than she is, and yet he keeps going. He doesn't get to sleep through the night any longer. He takes care of my mom and the house. He cooks all the meals. Does all the gardening. Takes pictures of the garden so my mom can see that everything is still in good shape.
And I guess this is really what love is... it's not beautiful like in the movies. It's raw and it's painful and it's time consuming. And yet, there are powder puffs - soft, round cheeks that remind me of a woman who may not be the sex symbol she once was, but is still fiercely loved and adored by her husband.