After he shuffled back, he stood next to my bar stool, tightly gripping his walker and stated, quite matter-of-factly, “We need to go home. I pooped my pants.”
In the car, I told him about disposable underwear that looks like real briefs. “Do you think you’d like to try those?” I asked him. “I’d rather kill myself,” I expected him to say, as he had when I suggested the medical alert device, a power-lift recliner and assisted living. But this time he simply responded, “Yeah, I think I should.” I ordered an economy-size pack for him online. They were too small, but he wouldn’t let me order a different size.
I, too, live by myself. And, at present, I am not nearly as determined to leave the house as my father was — perhaps because I know I will eventually be able to do so on two steady feet. Also, I’ve already fallen on my face on the wet tile of a tire store. Not that staying in is much easier. I also fell on the wet tile of my own kitchen.
I cannot independently procure food, nor cook it. The dog I inherited when my father could no longer care for him has protested my lack of attention by eating household objects, a fact I learned when he vomited on the stairs in the middle of the night.
So I simply accept rides to and from work, where the bathroom door is heavy but the handicap stall and non-slip floors a relief — and then come home to elevate my foot and eat meals friends have prepared for me. My wardrobe is built around socks with treads and sweaters with patch pockets, much as my father’s depended on pre-tied tennis shoes and cargo pants.
To wash my small cadre of functional outfits, I toss the clothes in a knotted plastic bag down to the basement, where the washing machine is, then follow on one foot, my weight on the dual railings I had installed for my father. I hoist myself back up the stairs on my knees and ask the next visitor to retrieve the clothes for me — another trick my dad passed on.
On a weekend morning, I woke up relieved to put on sweatpants and spend the day at home. I had boarded the dog, freeing me from the challenges of lifting his food bowl off the floor or opening the sliding back door to let him out.