After a few days, Nicky began to notice that his mom’s hair was looking bad. He knew she had an issue with taking a bath and she really just needed a shampoo. He called Home Health and asked for suggestions. They said the drug store had no-rinse shampoo shower caps.
“You just massage her head for about 5 minutes and, poof, their hair is clean,” said the nurse practitioner. “Hospitals use them frequently.”
Nicky picked up a couple at the store and brought them home. He held his breath thinking how to approach her with this. She really didn’t take to odd things.
“Mom, I got this new shampoo shower cap so I can wash your hair without you having to get in the bath tub.”
“What is it?” she asked.
“Its like a shower cap.” He opened the wrapper and pulled out the white plastic shower cap inside. “I’m going to put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds and warm it up.”
The microwave dinged and he pulled the warm folded cap out. “Mom, is it okay if I put this on your head?”
“You say it will wash my hair?” He took that as her approval.
“Yeah.” He took out her hair pin and took off her glasses. He pulled the cap over the top of her head and tucked the loose strands in. Then he began to slowly massage her scalp though the cap. Her breathing slowed and she smiled a little.
“I’m supposed to massage your head for five minutes. Is it too hot?”
“No! Oh, boy! That feels nice.”
A feeling of delight settled on him. He was so happy to bring her joy. He’d wondered about how few and far between joyous moments must come to her. He kept massaging for several minutes until the strands of hair around her ears felt cold.
“Is it cold now?”
“Yeah,” she gave in. “So I don’t have to shampoo my hair no more?”
“Nope. We can use this. You will still need to bathe to wash yourself, but we can do this spa shampoo to clean your hair.”
“Well, I like that,” she said. He did a little fist pump behind her back.
Nicky and his wife Amy both got sick with a cold later that day. Just a regular head cold, but it was a tough one. Four days later they were still feeling sinus pressure and body aches. Nicky had a fever that would come and go. At one point at the grocery with his daughter he felt like he was going to pass out. He had a paranoid thought of what would his daughter do if he passed out in the middle of the parking lot? Would she know to call 911 on her phone? Would strangers help? Would he get run over right in front of her?
Mrs. Huntington didn’t seem to understand he felt bad. She looked at him and said, “Are you sick?” when he had puffy eyes and a red nose.
“Did you take anything for it?”
“Yeah. I took some something.”
Then she would go right back to asking her ever-repeating round of questions. He started losing his voice as laryngitis settled in. This made it tough. She was hard of hearing, so he had to talk loud and repeat often. He tried whispering answers to his son for him to repeat loudly. His mom got an agravated look on her face. There was no rest for him.
She grabbed a tissue and wiped her nose with it.
“Mom, are you feeling sick?” He had tried hard to wash his hands frequently and cough away from her.
“Yeah, I think so.”
“You must have caught my and Amy’s cold.”
“No, I don’t think so. I’ve been sick since yesterday. You just got sick today.”
There was no arguing with her. She got up to use the restroom and, when she came out, announced the toilet was stopped up.
Nicky went to the bathroom and vigorously worked the plunger to no avail. “Let’s let it sit awhile. Maybe it will unclog itself.”
They went in the living room and watched TV. About an hour later, he went and tried again. This time the toilet overflowed. He turned off the water and grabbed dirty towels from the laundry to stop the flood. He worked on it for another fifteen minutes before she came to investigate where he went.
“The toilet stopped up, mom.”
“Who do you think did that?”
He bit his lip to hold back an answer. Just then the clog gave way and the bowl emptied. “I don’t know, mom, but it’s alright now.”
She turned to go and said, “Whew, I’m dizzy. Have you ever felt so bad you were dizzy?”
His sore dry throat cracked as he squeaked out, “Yeah, mom. It’s bad, huh. Go sit down and I’ll be right there.” He steadied himself against the vanity when he bent over to pick up the sopping wet unsanitary towels to put them in the washer.
He mopped the bathroom floor, washed his hands and went into the living room. Despite wondering if it was going to be possible to continue when he felt completely drained, delight found him again. His ten-year-old autistic son was curled up next to her in her recliner reading My Penguin Osbert to her.
“Chocolate chips for breakfast! Would you eat that?” she asked the boy making a gagging face.
“Well, yeah! I would eat chocolate chips for breakfast,” he said with a wondrous expression. The boy continued reading and she followed along enthralled.
His mom was home. This was her home. She had become a primary part of his children’s lives. She had a purpose here. There were crazy moments that made him wonder if he wasn’t the one that had lost his mind. But above all else, he didn’t regret his decision.