The Caretaker

“It’s time to wake up!” she said to her. “Come on! There’s warm milk ready for you. It’s a big day today!” she continued and prodded her awake.

She continued looking at the face she knew so well. But her optimism for the day ebbed as a frown replaced her smile. She suddenly couldn’t bear to look at the all too familiar face. She turned around and left her, half awake, half asleep and headed to the kitchen to prepare their breakfast – porridge, as usual.

“Are you awake? We have to get you ready, bathed, dressed and ready to go!”

She went back into her room to check that she had packed everything. She had laid out the clothes she was going to dress her in. It was a big day indeed. She was worried about leaving her alone. Mother’s anxiety kicked in, and she began worrying a lot more.

Despite the melancholy creeping into her day, she pretended to be all happy and smiled while she went through the motions of a usual day. She fed her, bathed her and dressed her. Maybe she can do this, she thought. Maybe separation wasn’t the answer. But she had to let go. She had to live her life.

“So, you are all set for your first day! You’ll have a good time there, I promise. They will take very good care of you,” she kept saying, probably to console herself, more than anything else.

She looked at her; two sets of brown eyes met. Tears dripped from both.

“Don’t cry! I’m sorry, it’s all my fault I know. I am a terrible person. I’m sorry,” she said and she went to hug her. She felt her hand touch her head and felt as though she was making her look at something. She couldn’t speak much anymore.

She directed her gaze to the couch, around herself. The area around her seat was darker than the rest of the couch – it was wet. She had Soiled herself.

“Oh Mom..it’s okay,” she said, looking at her mother.

She had been taking care of her mother for years now. She soiling herself was nothing new, nothing she hadn’t always cleaned up. Her mother was an old woman. But a woman who had taken very good care of her. She could never come to let her go. But lately, it was getting very difficult to juggle her own life and that of the caretaker she was while at home. She felt terrible about entering her into a home, a facility that could and would do a better job of taking care of her.

She cleaned her mother up and helped her into new clothes. She drove her to the old-age home and checked her in. She sat with her until they were ready with the room. She put all her mother’s belongings in her room; put photos on the sill and her clothes in the closet.

She couldn’t bear to stay there any longer. She crouched in front of her mother and said, “I’ll visit often, I promise.”

She left her then. On her way out, she saw many others there, laughing, playing board games, sharing stories, reading books with their glasses perched low on their noses. She hoped her mother would have a similar time, a good time. She hoped they would take good care of her.

She drove back home. She had been worried about the stress of separation triggering an episode but she had made it through the morning. She dialed her doctor.

“Hi, it’s Zoya here.”

“Hi Zoya, how are you today?”

“I’m alright. I can come in anytime you want.”

“Oh, that’s great. Has your mother settled in?”

“The place looked great. I just dropped her there. Thank you for your suggestion, Doctor.”

“They will take good care of her, don’t worry. I’ll have your chemo scheduled at the earliest.”

“Thank you. I’ll be there.”

She hung up then and sat there. She allowed her concentration to waver for the first time in the day; allowed her brain to grow fuzzy. She looked at the nearly dried up spot of her mother’s urine, on the couch. She wondered about her own impending incontinence. At thirty, she wondered whose attention would she direct to the fact that she had soiled herself.

Soil

P.S. A short story after a long time. Happy brewing, happy reading! 🙂

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2 thoughts on “The Caretaker

  1. Now that is how you’re supposed to write a story.
    Kept me guessing until the second last paragraph.
    For few first paragraphs, it felt like a story about a mother trying to wake up her child for a day at school. then it became a story about an ill mother and then the ending, my god, the ending.
    This story definitely has much more potential. Maybe you’ll extend it into a novella someday.
    For my sake, i hope so.

    Liked by 1 person

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