As my father was brushing my teeth one night, I started thinking about what this very act does to him… or for him.
When my motorneuron disease weakened me to the point where I couldn’t brush my own teeth anymore, I found the ordeal of having someone else move a brush in and out of my mouth, well… an ordeal. And it hasn’t been a picnic for my dad, either. My mother seriously dislikes the job, as I know that I would, too. That’s okay, she does other things very well. Anyway, this empathetic kind of thing that requires concentration, patience, and precision is better suited for my dad’s skill set. But, I know that my father does not like, or should I say, particularly enjoy, this chore. It’s a chore.
On this particular night, the burden that is my daily care was weighing heavily upon me. It’s easy to feel a little guilty when you have to depend so much on other people. And I was thinking that my father would be better off if he didn’t have to do this chore, night after night with little variation and very rare respites, better off if he didn’t have to do it then, at that moment. Of course, he would rather that I be able to do it for myself – for my sake – but, because I can’t, he says that he is glad to do it for me. He says this about all of the many, many, many things that he does for me day in and day out.
Yes, of course he feels that way. He’s a good dad. He’s a good man. But – for his sake – I was thinking that someone else should be doing this, someone who hires herself out as a home health aide, for example, like the ones that take on some of my daily care for a few hours, four days a week. Trying to get more help has proven very difficult. But, if I was able to arrange some kind of full-time care from professionals, then my father would have a little more of what he deserves – a normal, ordinary way of living.
That night, however, as my dad was brushing my teeth, I began to wonder… (and it could’ve been my self-conscious trying to assuage my sense of guilt or it could’ve been a little inspiration of wisdom – or a combination of both.) Maybe there’s something in life that he’s gaining through this chore…? Continue reading