This, Too, is True.

What is True? I am struggling with this one.  

Some truths are easier to accept than others.  

Some are a surprise.  

Some come upon me, like eyes awakening.  A big OH! Like turning a corner and there it is. True.

Some I simply step into, they have always been, no question, no doubt.  

Some are there, but distorted by so much I cannot discern them.  

Or, they are all true at the same time.  

Sometimes I lose what Truth even means.  It is a crooked line I cannot straighten.  

Sometimes it is true in that moment, but only in that moment.

But perhaps instead of jumping into the middle of the sea with seeking the Truth, I begin with a puddle.

My Mother. 

Mealtime, we have our routine.  Is it breakfast or brunch?  By the time we get going with lifting, nudging, pushing, prodding, begging to get her upright, it is hard to tell.  Most mornings she is deep, down deep, and it is nearly impossible to raise her up.

Then on to standing. She uses her walker now, no longer fights it.  But I can’t hold her upright unless she helps me.  I say it in French.  “Il faut que tu m’aide.  Je ne peu pas te porter.”  And we count to three: one, two, three, as we rise together.  As she finds her balance and we make our way towards the bathroom, one slow step at a time.

She stands stooped over. Her head pulled towards the ground. Is it to see where she is going, or is it that the effort of standing tall is just too much?  More slow steps to the bathroom.  There she lets go of her walker and reaches out towards the towel bar.  A daring young man on his flying trapeze, as she releases one and reaches for the other. 

She keeps mumbling, “Je vais tomber,” I’m going to fall.  No Ma, we’ve got you.  We turn her in tiny increments, clock hands moving from 12 to 3, as she releases that bar and turns towards the toilet grips.  We have bars she can hold everywhere now.  

Sometimes we are premature in lowering her diaper.  ‘Depends’ are a white-washed word for what they are, diapers.  Pretending it isn’t what it is, diapers.

They must weigh a good couple of pounds, sodden from the night, and we lower them only half way before she starts to pee.  It is quite the feat, to get her situated so that when she starts we can get her to the bowl in time.  But this time, we’re off and it trickles to the floor.

“Je m’excuse.” I’m sorry. 

It’s ok ma, it happens.  And it runs down her leg, puddles on the ground. We finally get her into position so she can finish on the seat.

That is true.

It’s ok, it’s only urine. My heart aches at her apology.  

Showers are dangerous these days so we sponge her down.  Top first, drying her off as we go, then on down to the bottom. These warm days are welcome so she doesn’t get chilled.

They call it a whore’s bath, what we give her. It’s where you just focus on the critical areas, under arms, between legs, wiping her face, the sleep from her eyes.  

There are these folds on her body, rather like an elephant’s. Her belly, where we need to lift and wash. And under breasts, each a different size from her double duty with breast cancer.  And of course, between her legs, that most private of places.  I try to keep it matter of fact, I guess we’ve gotten used to it now.  It’s amazing what we can get used to.  

My sister and I do this together, one on each side.  It has definitely brought us closer!  We roared with laughter the other day when we had our mom sandwiched between us.  She had the front and I had the back.  I couldn’t believe I was kneeling there facing my mother’s bottom, my hands on her hips, keeping her upright.

But I don’t always laugh. There are days when I want to break things, scream at her for being so helpless.  Furious that I have to wipe her ass like a baby.  

That, too, is true.

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