Tender heart moments

"Where are my legs?" Mom asked in response to my suggestion that she dry her legs while I dry her upper body. Her hands fluttered in an airy gesture; lost. I had carefully sat her down on the orthopedic shower chair which I hide in her shower next to the tub framed by pale pink lace decorative curtains. I've learned to pull the chair out and lay a soft towel on it when I'm nearly finished bathing mom so that when I help her out of the tub she has an instant place to sit. Eight months ago when I showed up with two pieces of bathing aid furniture lent by a friend mom was indignant. I hid them. Several months of bathing mom went by before she was ok with the chair (hiding the chair under one of her decorative towels helped). Each bath she becomes more dependent and I become more competent. Certainly in the beginning I felt uncomfortable washing the single little breast cancer left her with and even now I find myself tentatively working toward other intimate places. Today when I gave her the washcloth and asked her to "wash her girlie parts" she quickly became distracted, carefully washing the inside of the tub instead. Sensing her need to feel useful, I let mom slosh the washcloth around the tub for a few minutes, admiring the determination she displayed in her task but her 95 pound frame gets cold easily so I eased the washcloth from her hand, wrapped her in a towel and assisted her in the unsteady chore of standing up. She tried to dry off with the lace curtains, caught herself and looked at me with total disbelief, like a child who farts and isn't quite sure where it came from. I made a lighthearted comment about how "obviously the towel must not have enough lace for her taste," but the flicker of fear in her eyes that broke the more standard thick wooly blanket of confusion stabbed my heart. Hugs. Hugs tend the tender places as Alzheimer's amps up its vicious attack.