The shit is hitting the floor.
Yes, that’s right – the floor, not the fan. I don’t really know why shit would hit a fan, but I’ll leave that question alone for now.
The salient point here is that shit has indeed been hitting the floor.
Seems my elderly, not exactly physically/mentally well mother has been having difficulty reaching the bathroom in time.
And when that happens, well – the shit needs somewhere to go – and the floor is the most likely landing place.
My parents got married over 50 years ago. They have basically been inextricably connected throughout each others’ entire adult lives. There were, of course, those repeated separations early on, when my Mom would leave him in New York and take my older sister and me with her to Florida. (I was just an infant, but my sister vividly recalls these episodic journeys) And then there was that interlude of divorce, after I left home, when my Mom finally moved permanently to Florida. That lasted about 15 years. But inevitably, my Mom and Dad were meant to be together. Over and over again, she would visit with him in New York. He would visit her in Florida.
And then she began to unravel, to crumble, to cease functioning. No stranger to anxiety, depression, and psychotropic medications to stay afloat throughout her life – Now there was no more floating. Just sinking. And my Dad was there. Participating in it. Co-creating it with the intention of being a source of support and strength. And she got sicker and sicker. She stopped teaching voice lessons and performing wedding ceremonies – work she had so dearly cherished. She stopped cleaning the apartment, preparing food for herself, going outside, speaking with anyone other than my Dad, and ultimately stopped walking or even standing up on her own.
And my Dad was there. And they officially got re-married. (They don’t count the lapse of the divorce years if you ask how long they’ve been married. It doesn’t seem relevant.) He loves her. Always has. Always will. In a way that defies comprehension. For over 50 years, my mother has had to scream at the top of her lungs to get his attention. And now, this same man who has perfected the art of ignoring other people, is literally cleaning up her shit off the floor.
I believe that is an act of love. I believe I would be profoundly blessed to have someone by my side who would clean up my shit, wherever it lands. (I’m considering adding this to my online dating description of what I’m seeking in a partner, but have managed to refrain. Somehow I think any responses would not exactly be what I had in mind.)
My Mom recently discovered, quite suddenly, that she has terminal lung cancer. The disease is progressing frighteningly quickly, and she is now permanently residing in a skilled nursing facility.
Before she became delirious, when she was still communicating in the realm of reality, she said to me: “Jude, it’s incredible. All these years of living with your father and we never talked. Now he’s coming here and we’re having conversations all the time.”
He is there with her, every day – regardless of the fact that he has stopped sleeping at night, and can barely keep his eyes open; that he has trouble getting himself up out of his chair; that he has been getting bouts of dizziness and falling quite often; that she is generally no longer able to participate in any kind of conversation. He chooses to be by her side.
There are increasingly frequent occurrences of shit hitting the floor these days. And although now there are aides to assist with the clean-up, he is still right there, loving her through it all.
Interestingly, the other day I opened my car door and was distressed by a terrible odor. Upon investigation, I discovered what looked (and smelled) like a lump of shit on the floor, beneath the steering wheel. I removed the mat and did my best to wash it off with non-chemical, fragrance-free cleaning products. I also eventually removed my sneaker and did my best to wash the bottom after realizing the shit was there too.
It would have been a really good time to use a product with fragrance – to cover up the lingering shit smell on both my shoe and the car mat. Unfortunately, my ongoing chemical/fragrance sensitivity ruled that option out.
It also would have been really great if I had discovered the shit on my shoe before walking throughout the entire apartment to vacuum. But there I was – spreading shit on the floor in a sincere and rare attempt to clean it.
Why do I bring this up? I don’t really know. Seems connected somehow. I think ultimately, shit will hit the floor, one way or another. And it will not always be possible to cover it up with some kind of sweet smelling substance, or to completely eliminate its lingering olfactory effects. And sometimes the efforts to keep things tidy and shit-free are not only ineffective – they actually contribute to the further spreading of crap where you don’t want crap to be.
And I think this is the moment to soften and to embrace the whole thing with an open heart – the accidental mess, the cleaning, the part that won’t be cleaned despite my best efforts, the knowledge that it will likely happen again, and the amazement that it hasn’t happened more frequently.
And this is the moment to reclaim the simple sweetness of gratitude and appreciation for my Mom and my Dad, shit and all.