After asking daily (repeatedly!) for dad to take her to the casinos in Biloxi, dad finally relented. “Did I tell you we were going to Biloxi?” Dad asked. “No. Mom did, but then she tells me that everyday,” I replied with a grin. Despite how much dad hates it, he was taking mom to Biloxi to satisfy her, at least temporarily. Sadly, mom is happiest at the casino. She sits in the car on the way, happily tapping her foot to the music and singing along. It’s one of the rare times these days that she shows emotion.
The only positive thing about going to the casino is that they have to walk – a lot. It’s the only exercise mom gets. She refuses to do anything else. While taking the long walk through the casino to get to one specific machine that mom loves, she needed to stop to use the restroom. Mom went in as dad stood guard outside of the door. When mom did not exit the restroom after several minutes, dad grew concerned. He asked the next woman who came out to do him a huge favor. ”My wife has been in the restroom for a very long time. Can you go in, call her name and ask if she needs help?” dad asked. The young woman happily obliged. She soon returned telling dad that my mother did indeed need help. Her colostomy had fallen off and she needed a change of clothing. “I’ll wait with your wife while you go get her clean clothes,” she offered. Dad rushed up to the room, returning with the needed clothing. He called the young woman’s name and she promptly met him at the door. “Your wife said she needs another colostomy too,” she informed dad. Again, dad ran up to the room, returning with another colostomy. She again met him at the door to retrieve the clean clothing and colostomy. At that point dad asked her if she knew how to change a colostomy.
“Doesn’t your wife know how?” she asked.
Dad responded, “My wife has dementia. She’s never done it.”
“We’ll figure it out,” was the response.
“It snaps on like a Tupperware,” dad informed her. Armed with that little bit of instruction this wonderful young lady went back in to aid mom.
If you’ve never dealt with a colostomy, it can be a mess, especially if it has fallen off. And it smells awful. Mom, in a public restroom with feces on her and her clothing, smelling up the entire room, must have been terribly confused as to what to do. This young woman with no experience in such matters, not knowing this elderly couple, went into the stall with my mother, washed her, snapped her fresh colostomy in place, helped her put on clean clothing, placed her soiled clothing in a plastic bag and walked mom out to meet dad. Relieved and grateful, dad profusely thanked this young woman, placing $80.00 in her hand, all of the cash he had on him.
“Oh no,” she responded. “I can’t accept that.”
“Please take it,” dad pleaded. “You will never know how much I appreciate what you did for my wife today. Take it, buy yourself something nice.” She reluctantly accepted. To this day dad’s big regret is that he did not get her name and address so he could send her a note again thanking her for her kindness.
Hearing dad tell this story brought tears to my eyes – and to his. With all that is wrong with this world there is still much good. There are still people willing to help others with no expectation of receiving anything in return.
Angels do walk among us.