taking care of the place

watching the sun set

watching the sun set
Written by Cathoel Jorss,

Mum’s just taken Dad on an outing & waving goodbye to them I began to cry. Soon it will be the long goodbye. My Dad seems so cheerful and excited, sitting up in his passenger seat having been hoisted up by two of us out of the wheeling chair. The carer said he woke up this morning saying, “I have to get up! and get dressed! because today we are going to Jacob’s Well!” I was pining to go too but there is too much intricate and painstaking one-handed assemblage packing to do, for shipping to Germany. In between packing and finger X-rays I have rejoiced in the opportunity to serve, to be here and offer freshly ground espressos and little nightly shoulder massages where my Mum has torn her ligaments by helping haul Dad in and out of chairs; last night Dad’s hand took hold of mine on the guard rail of his hired hospital bed and was making little stroking movements that suggested to me a brand new notion. “Dad, is there any part of your body which might like a massage, too?”

“Oh,” he said, diffidently, “I suppose.”

“Maybe your hand?” I said, turning it very gently to palpate the withered meat. When I was done with that hand, his good hand, I said, “Maybe your other hand would like a bit of a rub, too?” And when I drew the clenched stricken left hand out from under the blanket like a miracle it had relaxed in sympathy, all the fingers spread flat and the palm as large as it ever was. I massaged the sweet curling poll of his head where perhaps he has never been massaged before. Dad closed his eyes and let his face unfold. I wish I could be here forever just offering these tiny daily services, these mutual favours. It uncrumples me to relieve his suffering. It filled my heart with heat when he said, three days ago after our first outing which was also to the seaside, “Darling could I have a cup of tea with honey and lemon, please?” Two months back he had to be fed sips of water from a spoon because his swallowing was so bad. This was the first time he had asked outright for anything to eat or drink since we all thought he would die, that night in Emergency. My mother that evening fell and shattered her hip, and they were lying two beds apart in the Emergency room at the hospital. My father said that if he had a heart attack or something else like that he did not want to be revived. Now he has revived, to a certain extent, all by himself. Or, via company. The companionship of the three of us in the house with this wonderful carer who is never too tired to bring him a fresh glass of milk when he calls into the baby monitor at three a.m. has latched him back onto life. The night after the voluntary cup of tea he had a friend visit who had come all the way from Sydney just to see them. It was the first time in all Dad’s friends’ visits I have heard his voice as much as the visitors’ voices, they had a spirited chat and then as it began to grow dark we asked Dad didn’t he want to come inside in case he got cold. “No,” he said, lying on the striped foam mattress on the cane couch which came back from Indonesia when we first moved here. “I’d like to stay out here a while. I want to watch the sun set.”

4 comments on “watching the sun set

  1. It can be so lovely to do nice things for others. We all need to watch more sunsets too. Lots of supportive energy to you and your loved ones during these times of illness and reliance.

    Smoph July 29, 2016 at 4:35 am
  2. Thanks Smoph, I appreciate your kind thoughts. Aye it is one of the greatest things, isn’t it? Mapping out the intricacies of our sweet and irritant reliance on each other.

    Cathoel Jorss July 29, 2016 at 5:37 am
  3. It ‘s always the little things Cathoel… It ‘s NEVER been about the big things. Love… Touch and just listening to the quiet… The delight when the silence is broken by the mundane things… Like asking for a cup of tea.
    It’s the meaning in the silence as well as what that simple cup of tea represents. X

    Marilyn July 29, 2016 at 5:04 pm
  4. Oh Cathoel, your finger! Just caught up. Heck oh dear, as my own mum would say. I can’t tell you how beautiful I think this piece is. It puts me so much in mind of my own time with my Aunty Kath, and other elders. Those small offerings of service. Bless you and may your hand heal soon 💖

    Hinemoana July 29, 2016 at 8:35 pm

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *