What the Caregiver Knows
Sponge baths, toilette, feeding adults unable to lift a fork. Each client is different,
each client is a gift, yet we both recognize how the story ends. John, on the precipice
of dementia, was shuffled from doctor to doctor by ambulance, his social worker
pleading with each to agree to surgery. He was refused; none believed his fragile
heart could support the anesthesia let alone invasive surgery for his fractured hip.
So, here he is tonight gurneyed into his home, each turn of the wheels a puncturing
pain yet he does not cry out. His quivering finger points upward, his fatigued, hoarse
voice whispers, “How silvery the moon. Isn’t it a wonder?”
* * *
Now bound to that wheelchair, in a tiny cabin with little, nothing really, Evelyn shares stories of her years tending those gorgeous young men in San Francisco gravely ill from AIDS; comforting people with broken bones, failing organs, crushed dreams that landed them in ER where she treated each like her beloved parents, like her own child. It’s cold. I wrap her tiny ninety-something body in the beautiful quilt hand-made by locals offering what they can to those fading into twilight. The colors frame a face shining with ineffable spirit,
lovingkindness offered anyone in her orb, up to the moment she left. Now, her quilt rests
on my bed. I cover myself toes to shoulders, as if the hands that made this quilt were akin
to the proverbial laying on of hands, connecting me to that sage of holy joy; the gift of Evelyn.
The tea bowl fills up, empties.
Our bodies act, then rest.
Both can break, but only in
the moment. To come together,
consider a brush of beauty,
kintsugi, to repair yet not disguise;
to reveal your full history, even
the flaws, with grace, to remind us
that life’s purpose is we go on.
NOTE: Kintsugi, a technique established in Japan, that uses metal powder (gold, silver, platinum) and lacquer to repair cracks in fine ceramics to add both beauty and history to an object, thus extending its service.
Diana Rosen, a journalist and tea enthusiast with six books on the topic, has poems in RATTLE, As It Ought to be Magazine, PIF Magazine, Existere Journal of Arts & Literature, and many others. She loves exploring Los Angeles’s Griffith Park, the country’s largest public green space, her 4,000-acre “backyard.” To read more of her work, please visit www.authory.com/dianarosen