My mom possibly fractured some ribs getting out of the bath the other day. It’s so easy to slip and fall, especially when you are older. My mom is extra careful, because she’s still nursing a broken shoulder from a year ago. The doctor checked her out and she should heal with rehab, but I couldn’t help but think of the irony here. Our family seems to have trouble with baths and showers.
Dad’s last moments alive were spent in the shower. The assistants at the care center he was at were helping him get a shower when he slumped to the floor, most likely from a cardiac arrest. He passed away just minutes later.
I also think back on how dad began to lose his ability to groom himself, as the dementia took a tighter hold on him. My mom would have to assist him in the shower, which must have been terribly difficult considering their impossibly small bathroom. I remember my mom telling me how she instructed dad to put shampoo on his hands and then lather up his head. He did so dutifully, then turned to her with a mountain full of suds atop his head. “Now what,” he asked, like a lost child who had never completed this task before.
But there are happier memories I have of bath time. I remember my dad singing in the shower, usually a medley of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby tunes with some Irish favorites mixed in for good measure. I remember loving the bright color of soap he used, which sometimes was Irish Spring, sometimes Dial. I remember racing into the bathroom after my dad had showered and swirling around in the steamy mist and breathing in the clean soap scent.
I’m also going to be extra careful in the shower myself from now on in an attempt to avoid this unusual family curse.
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