“Oh, you girls, bathing Grandma can’t be all that difficult.”
This is my brother in law, Dr. Ron speaking. My mother and my 3 sisters and I are sitting at my mother’s kitchen table, discussing how it’s time to Bathe Grandma, Again.
This is a long time ago. My mother’s mother is in her late 80’s and has had dementia for as long as I have known her. She and my grandfather live in a cottage on my parent’s property.
My grandmother is the funniest woman I know. People tell me she had a terrific sense of humor before her strokes, but stroking hasn’t seemed to have taken away her zany and outspoken world view.
Hot weather or cold, Grandma always wears her heavy, hairy red coat that hangs below her knees with a lop-sided drag. She has long white hair that sweeps to her waist, hair that she brushes, puts into 2 two fat braids and loops over her head and pins.
She’s got the black grandma shoes and the nylons rolled right above her ankles. She wears gold wire-rimmed glasses over her nose, glasses that accent her heavily wrinkled face.
She’s healthy and strong and sinewy and likes to take a boxing stance. When she walks she lists to the right like a ship ready to roll over and go down in the roiling sea.
She doesn’t like to bathe and we don’t like to bathe her, but it becomes an absolute necessity when we can smell her as she rocks her way towards us or sits at our conference table for dinner with all 10 of us every night. The 10 of us are my father, mother, 6 kids, Lancaster (our grandfather) and Grandma.
Then, of course, in this room we need to count the big, smelly dogs, the cats, a few chickens that like to come in the house and visit and sometimes my brother’s mean, wild raccoon that rummages through all the pots and pans in the drawers and cupboards in the kitchen, while we eat.
But, that’s another story for another day.
We’re talking about my grandmother and once again it’s Bath Day. We girls all hate this day because it takes all 5 of us to get her in the tub and hold her in the tub and get her washed. She screams at us, yells and slaps us soundly with wet wash rags. By the time the wash is over, the small bathroom in her cottage is wet, floor, walls and ceiling, soaked with water and we are all drenched with our clothes stuck to us and our hair in runny clumps with knots of soap and water.
Dr. Ron is sitting in Grandma’s small living room which is actually part of the kitchen, as we girls and Mom at the kitchen table discuss The Bath, which we are gathered to here to accomplish. We’re having green tea, getting fortified. Grandma is sitting with us, nodding and smiling sweetly, not having a care or trouble in what is left of her former mind.
Ron repeats himself, “You girls are all making too big a deal of this. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do these things. You’re obviously not approaching Grandma in the right manner.”
We all turn our heads to look at him and somebody says mildly, “Well gee…why don’t you show us how to do it,then?”
Maybe it was me?
Dr. Ron says, “Ok. I will.” (more…)