While my Mother recovered from hip surgery, I did a lot of sketching.
The page below is only one of three. While you sit and wait for someone to wake up after surgery there’s not much one can do in the hospital but read or draw. I chose drawing with my brush pen directly on the paper. What you see here is what I drew. No penciling or erasing.
Although she is up and waking around now with two new hips, the role reversal of taking care of a parent is, as I have learned more than once, something nobody can prepare you for. Really. No matter what anyone tells you about it, they can NOT prepare you for what it involves. Especially the dreaded “Dusty Water.” Dusty water is a horrible, horrible affliction that plagues my Mother hourly. I had never heard of it before and found that it is sadly… incurable. I first encountered this malaise after my Mother came home from the hospital and found herself unable to get in and out of bed with regularity while her hips healed. I would be called to her room often to find her, glass of water in hand, asking me to get her a fresh refill, as her current water was “dusty.”
“Dusty?” I asked.
“Yes, yes! This water has been sitting here for a while and it’s dusty!” she told me with some indignity.
So I got her a glass of water with ice, straw and not so much dust in it as she requested. But then I found that there was something very important I didn’t know about straws. There is the correct straw to give my Mother and there is the wrong straw.
“Oh, you gave me a straight straw. It’s alright this time but next time could you get me the straw with the bendy top?” She told me with a bit of a frown.
“Sorry, I didn’t see the bendy straws. “
“Right there in the second drawer down on the right side of the sink. They are under the packets of sponges. Near the measuring cups. Next time though. I’m fine.” She adjusted her pillow and turned her attention to a rerun of “Everybody Loves Raymond” on her small TV.
I filled the dishwasher with the dusty glasses.
In the morning I got her breakfast of cottage cheese, tangerine oranges and a glass of water without dust on it. If she didn’t see me actually fill the cup and put the ice in, she would give it back to me, informing me that the water was indeed dusty. As I sat eating with her I wondered if I would I one day be like this. Would I actually like to eat a mixture of cottage cheese and tangerine oranges? Was dusty water hereditary?
Likewise, before bed she had me fill a new glass and bring it to the side of her bed, as she had to use a walker at this point.
“It’ll be dusty in an hour or so but I can have a few drink before I fall asleep.” She’d tell me.
Some nights, after she got in bed, I was sent on a mission through out the house looking for particular blankets that were needed on top of all her normal covers to keep her body at just the right temperature.
“The blue blanket on the chair in the upstairs bedroom. If it’s not there, it may be in the closet in the front bedroom on the left shelf. Could you bring that to me, dear? That is the exact blanket I need to remain warm tonight.”
Off I went on my search for this most perfect blanket and returned only to find to my horror that dust had settled like fresh snow on my mother’s cup of water. Not that I could see it mind you, but it was there. She knew it was there.
“You didn’t find the bendy straws yet? “ she asked looking at the unyielding straight line of failure I had placed in her water due to being unable to yet locate the bendy straws where she had told me they were. “That’s okay though. They’re in the drawer just to the left of the sink though…”
After my two weeks of caring for my Mother, my sister came to take over. I didn’t have time to warn her about the curse of the “dusty water” before I said my farewells to my mother. She entered the house, bringing with her and eagerness to help out, a fresh attitude and some fresh blueberries which she placed lovingly on the kitchen counter.
The next morning my sister hunted for the fresh fruit. “Where are the berries I brought you?” My sister asked our Mother.
“I had to throw them away.” Mother answered.
“They were dusty.” My mother told her.