There it was, poop, on my hand. I reached for the first thing I could find, a tissue, at tissue on the cabinet, a used tissue, and without thinking wiped away the poop leaving a residue of snot on my hand.
This is care giving my friends.
The best part about this, and truly, truly, there aren’t many best parts of stuff like this, it doesn’t really bother me anymore. I no longer dry heave, I no longer shudder and recoil, I just wipe off the dirt with more dirt. Its life and frankly with warm water and soap you can clean any part of your body.
You can really tell you are settling into your role with all of this if you can stomach the nasty stuff, then tell the story and laugh about it. As Marty sat in her chair and I told her, “I just cleaned my poopy hands with your snot,” she busted out laughing.
Caring for someone who is unable to care for themselves is going to be dirty. People do stuff that is smelly and, at times, a little revolting, it’s just a fact of life when you are dealing with people. If you haven’t had to get dirty with the person you love, if you haven’t gotten on the ground and smelled the sometimes acrid odor of life just wait, you will. Caring for someone requires you smell the both the roses and the fertilizer.
Love is not easy. We watch the rom-coms at the movies and it’s always the same formula, fall in love, things are great, go through an ugly event in life, come back together as the music swells. In real life you occasionally have to pick up dirty underwear or shave in the company of someone sitting on the toilet. It’s real life, we gotta do some stuff.
I did some stuff with our kids, I cleaned up puke, I wiped noses and butts. I don’t remember having to fish poop out of the bath but I’ve seen my son do it. It’s not something anyone likes, it’s something you get to brag about later and something you get to laugh at your son about when his children make a mess in the tub.
Here’s the thing (I actually say, “here’s the thing” in real life when I’m going to make a particularly keen point) caring for someone you love, caring for someone who is sick or broken in some way is hard and is messy. Heck, the truth is loving someone, really loving someone, is hard and messy, it just is and don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise. Being in love, loving is hard dirty work.
It’s also incredibly rewarding and life sustaining. I’ve said it more times than you care to read or hear but caring for Marty is purely and simply the best and most decent thing I have ever done in my 62 years. I feel more important, more valuable, more loved by my love than ever and that my friend is the greatest reward there is.
I’m reminded of the scene in the movie Baby Momma where the veteran parent looks at the brown spot on her child, wipes it with her finger and asks her child, “Is this poop or chocolate?” as the mother to be looks on horrified that someone would so casually touch what is potentially poop. The Mom then touches her fouled finger to her tongue and pronounces, “Chocolate.” Cracked me up.
That’s the way it is, only sometimes it really is poop, which is okay because it washes off.