Yesterday we went to visit my uncle in hospice. I flew in with the girls a couple of days ago so I could spend some time with him before it was time to say goodbye. We had a nice afternoon watching the kids play, telling stories, and reminiscing about days gone by. The visit lasted a lot longer than I had planned for, and as the hours flew my boobs grew. It wasn’t until it was time to go, though, that I became aware of my situation-i.e., my cups were about to runneth over.
In hospice you want to make every goodbye count, and Addison took extra care to make sure hers was memorable. After Ella and I each gave my uncle a hug, I leaned in with Addison so he could give her a kiss. As his lips touched her head, Addison unloaded her own special parting gift in her pants. Nothing says, "I love you," like a good poop, and so, touched by her gesture, my uncle smiled and shooed us out of the room so he could take a nap and recover from the whole ordeal.
It wasn't until I got her on the changing table in the bathroom and started peeling off her clothes that I realized Addison’s gift had been extended through her diaper and, no lie, up to the neckline of her outfit. I reached for my wipes and was dismayed to find I only had four with me. I was going to have to make every wipe count.
I soon realized, though, this was not a river that could be contained by one hundred wipes, let alone four. I held Addison on the table with the tips of my fingers on one hand, and stretched across the room to grab some paper towels with the other. It turned out they were those terrible, non-absorbent paper towels—the ones that would remove the top layer of your skin if you tried too hard to use them for actual drying—so I wrapped Addison up in what I hoped was enough paper “towels” to keep her from dripping on the floor and made a dash to the sink. I rubbed her down with just enough hand soap to make sure she wasn’t sticky any more and folded her under the faucet for a quick rinse. Hoping hospice holds a pretty high standard regarding the cleanliness of their bathroom floors, I squatted down and balanced Addison on one knee so I could dry her off. There I sat, trying to gently blot her with the pieces of sandpaper this bathroom offered for drying, when I felt the unmistakable warmth of urine, which I was almost certain wasn’t mine, saturating places that were certainly mine. When I stood up I saw that Addison had strategically peed all over the crotch of my pants. It wasn’t the type of wetness somewhere on the side where people might do a double take and wonder whether or not I had had an accident. No, it was the full-on, stare-at-the-woman-who-wet-herself, kind of saturation. I used a non-absorbent towel to sop it up as best I could, but this level of wetness just couldn’t be hidden.
(I apologize to the weak of stomach—Even though I lived it, I didn’t realize just how gross this story was until halfway through writing it.)
I threw a diaper on my baby and bravely marched through the bathroom door and into the adjoining family room where I knew my mom and sister would be waiting to laugh at me. After sufficiently making fun of me for wetting my pants, they agreed to take Addison while I triaged the situation in the bathroom. I got a new round of laughs when I handed her over—I had apparently held Addison a little too close on our way to the sink, and now her parting gift extended to the bust of my shirt as well. That generous child just keeps on giving.
I wasn’t able to transfer the biohazard that was Addison’s outfit from the changing table to the sink without further defiling the floor, so now I had that to clean up as well. I gave Addison’s clothes a thorough rinsing, wrapped them in paper towels, and deposited them in a plastic bag in my purse. After tending to the floor, my next task was to try to clean up my shirt. The poop didn’t come off, of course, and the water I used made it look like I had leaked milk all over my shirt—which I was about to do anyway if I didn’t get to pump soon.
Back out to the family room! As I hurried by looking for a place to pump, I had time to note that my baby was now clad in a diaper and her sister’s jacket. You stay classy, Addison! I told a volunteer about my pumping plight, and she directed me toward the mediation room. I looked where she was pointing and saw a centrally located room with a big glass door and plenty of light streaming through the windows. It looked inviting, as well as convenient, to me, as I’m sure it did to any number of people who happened to pass by. As if reading my mind, the volunteer assured me no one would bother me in there if the door was closed.
Inside the meditation room there was a rock garden, a water fixture, and plenty of plants, in which was hidden one of those doodads that plays “sounds of nature”—or perhaps there was an ocean and some gulls hidden in there too—either way, it was serene. The door didn’t have a lock and, like I said, it looked like the type of place that people would want to visit, but the volunteer had assured me I’d be okay so I settled in to a chair next to a table full of meditation gear such as books, bibles, and prayer cards, and got out my gear. Two minutes after I started pumping I got my first visitor.
The woman had haplessly wandered into the meditation room with what appeared to be her lunch. Assuming she wasn’t planning to meditation upon some tuna salad, she didn’t really belong in there any more than I did. I expected her to turn around because, unless I was involved in some sort of new age meditation that involved attaching contraptions to the female body, it was kind of difficult to not notice what was going on here. Yet the sight of a stranger lactating didn’t seem to phase her. Rather than mutter an embarrassed little “sorry” and be on her way, this woman started to strike up a conversation with me. I’m not a very self-conscious person, but this was too weird, even for me. A couple of trite answers to her banal questions later, and she was on her way, and I was finally alone with my thoughts and my lactation.
Hospice and humor don’t usually go hand in hand but, as I sat there in the meditation room pumping in pants that were soaked with someone else’s pee, I realized this was exactly the sort of story my uncle would love, so I reached for a pen and paper and began recording the events of the day. This one's for you, Uncle Jay. I hope it makes you laugh like you've always made me laugh.
post script: My Uncle passed away a little over a week after this story was written. See "A Small Tribute to a Great Man."
Tuesday, May 8, 2007