upside down ~
and kiss her soft cheek.
She is lying diagonally across a hospital bed in her bedroom.
The bucket of water and pitcher sit next to my Dad's bed.
Towels, shampoo and conditioner lay on it.
I dip the pitcher into the warm water and as Dad sit on the bed and tenderly supports her,
the water pours over her head and splashes into the large bin in front of me,
wetting the fine, thin white hair.
Fragrant suds of tea tree oil and peppermint fill the room
She closes her eyes and relaxes.
Massaging the scented suds out and rubbing the lemon-sage conditioner in.
I talk softly of no-nonsense things.
I reminisce of days long ago...
of her washing my long, blond hair in the kitchen sink when I was a little girl.
There was lemon-scented shampoo back then, too.
I watch Dad gazing at her face as I wrap her head in a towel.
Classical music swirls around the room from the bedside radio.
It's a an hour in my life that I treasure each week.
The hairdryer blows warm air as I create soft waves in her hair with a round brush.
She still has beautifully silky hair,
although it is much thinner now.
Pink scalp showing through the snow white.
Her eyes are closed once again
as she tolerates my fussy brushing,
teasing, and hairspraying.
Tucking her layered strands behind her ears,
she looks like she used to before her dementia diagnosis and stroke...
if only for a moment.
I hear Dad in the bathroom rinsing out the tubs and hanging up towels
as I set a small square bucket on her lap.
Soapy water sloshes back and forth and I ask her to put her hands in it.
She opens her eyes and looks blankly at me,
but her hands attempt to move into the warm water.
I wash her hands and scrub her nails,
encouraging her to play in the water a bit.
Her pale fingers move back and forth as she holds my face steadily in her gaze.
"Does that feel nice, Mom?", I ask.
Her head nods ever so slightly.
I dry those aged hands.
Hands that have held me,
touched my face in love,
and waved goodbye to me.
Hands that I've seen clutched tightly in pain
time and time again.
And then opened in relief.
I pick up the nail file to file her nails short.
But so soft to the touch.
Toenails are next and more difficult.
Her toes are curled under and crooked.
I tuck her into bed for an afternoon nap.
She looks beautiful to me laying there on the blue sheets.
Piano music floats softly from the room next door.
Dad is playing his cherished piano now.
A self-taught pianist.
A handwritten list of hymns propped up before him on a pad of lined paper.
He doesn't know how to read music.
He plays from memory.
Trial and error.
His wish is to someday sit at the big organ in his church
and attempt to play something.....anything.
Fear and uncertainty hold him back.
But a maestro when caring for his beloved wife.
I stand in the hallway between the two rooms.
Mom sleeping peacefully in one.
Love has filled the house.
It is palpable.
I embrace it
tuck it into my heart.
~ Blessings ~