Swallow Haikus
August 10, 2017
Bed Bathing for Childless Daughters
August 10, 2017

Voices: Mary and Me

A Bother to you

First words

“Is something bothering you?” Mary whispers into my face as I lean in to pick her up from the bed and place her in her chair. 

I automatically respond, “Nothing’s bothering me.”

She stares at me, eyes wide open, imploring me for something. Mary’s eyes are rarely wide open anymore and for some reason they close when she sits up and open when she lies down. Her daughter compares it to a doll with open and closing eyes.

“One thing that is bothering me is the difficulty of trying to find something you can and will eat. Can you tell me what you want to eat for breakfast?”

“Eggs,” she exhales.

“Eggs?”  I ask, leaning in to hear. “Eggs? Did you say eggs?”

Mary closes her eyes and her head falls slightly forward, which I take for a nod of yes.

“I’ll be right back then. I’m going to the deli next door and then I’ll come back and cook you some eggs.” 

Mary hasn't spoken in over 3 months.  She whispers few words and even a phrase or two, that more often than not seem out of context or random. I often wonder how much of Mary is still in there.  I mean, I know this is Mary and she is fully herself; what I wonder is where she goes most of the time. I arrived at the moment when her first full sentence was, “Is something bothering you?” As I cook the eggs, a realization comes over me like the first ticklings of fall.

“Is something bothering you?” dawns in my consciousness and I realize what is revealed in my touch. I realize that while living out scenarios in my mind, with my thoughts drifting a million miles away, in performing my duties as a caregiver I am touching another being. I realize that I am performing my job, as if it were just that. I realize the sheer amount of intimacy that caregiving involves.

As these thoughts arise and depart I remember learning the importance of touch in infant care and how, when diapering an infant, you are passing on your attitude and feelings through touch. The opportunity to gently introduce baby to the new body they will be living in for the duration is the beginning of this circle, and in closing that circle the importance of that is not considered.

As I pondered these thoughts and their implications, I lift the spoon full of mashed egg to Mary’s lips and said, “Here’s your egg. Open up”. Mary’s lips barely part and I push a little bite through. I sit watching her mouth working, circling, cycling the eggs around and around, waiting to see if they will go down or come back out. And then, the eggs erupt in a cough, splattering me fully in the face and bringing me back to the immediacy of caregiving.


2012 November nine

in·ti·ma·cy noun \ˈin-tə-mə-sē\

1: the state of being intimate : familiarity. 2: something of a personal or private nature

Synonyms: belonging, chumminess, closeness,inseparability, familiarity, nearness

Antonyms: distance

Related Words: immediacy; affinity, kinship; commitment, devotedness, devotion; affection, attachment, fondness, love, passion; constancy, faithfulness, fidelity; amity, fellowship, friendship, goodwill; affability, conviviality, cordiality, geniality; mutuality; cliquishness, clubbiness


Near Antonyms: aloofness, coldness, coolness, remoteness, reserve

im·me·di·ate adjective \i-ˈmē-dē-ət,

1 a : acting or being without the intervention of another object, cause, or agency

b : present to the mind independently of other states or factors c : involving or derived from a single premise

2: being next in line or relation

3a : existing without intervening space or substance  b : being near at hand

4a : occurring, acting, or accomplished without loss or interval of time b(1) : near to or related to the present (2) : of or relating to the here and now

5: directly touching or concerning a person or thing


In the zone: Expression used to describe a state of consciousness where actual skills match the perceived performance requirements perfectly. Being in the zone implies increased focus and attention which allow for higher levels of performance. Athletes, musicians, and anybody that totally owns a challenge of physical and mental performance can be in the zone.