Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Hey there-

I find washing another person's hair one of the most physically nurturing things you can do for a person. A foot or hand massage comes in a close second.

Every Monday I "watch" my mother-in-law. She is 86 and has memory loss, bad eyesight, pain in her knees, and poor hearing. She lives by herself next door to two of her daughters. I like to think of it as the Milwaukee Wellenstein compound.

One of the activities we do together is a bath. (well, we don't do it TOGETHER....)I fill the tub for her and make sure she gets in safely and put in some good smelling essential oils or bath salts her daughter mixes up. Once situated she lays back, closes her eyes, and groans in utter relaxation.

"That smells great," I heard her say yesterday as I walked down the hallway. I smiled because I think aroma is so important and it was very satisfying to hear her appreciate the bath salts.

After she lingers in the tub a while I get to wash her hair. It can be a tricky task because I seem to have difficulty regulating the temperature of the water that comes out of the hand held shower;

"That's too hot.....now that's too cold!" she yells (because her hearing aide is out) at me as I try to rinse the soap out without scalding her scalp.

Even with the water temperature challenge I love to wash her hair. I give her a nice scalp massage and she moans in gratitude. But that is not why I love it. Something about washing her hair makes me feel so close to Bob. I can't explain why the action of washing Bobs mom's hair makes me think of Bob every time, but it does.

I miss washing the boys hair for them now that they shower and do it on their own. I hear some parents complain about bath time but it is one thing I really miss with the boys growing up.(It just might be the only thing I miss!) As long as we weren't rushed I enjoyed the frolicking and splashing and the smell of lavender and orange wafting up from the water. I loved rubbing their little heads, soaping up their hair and watching the bubbles run down their back as I rinsed them off.

Occasionally these days Arthur will ask me to come in and wash his feet. I sing a silly song and tickle him when I lather up the toes and he loves it. But neither of them ever ask me to wash their hair anymore.

But I get to do their grandma's hair, and I find it even more satisfying. I think it has to do with the fact that I can no longer nurture her son. While I did massage Bob's feet with peppermint oil right up until the end, I never washed his hair, and I will never have the chance to now since we aren't growing old together as planned.

My sisters-in-law act like I am doing them a big favor even though I am not spending time with my mother-in-law simply out of the kindness of my heart, they do pay me for my time. No one tell them but I think it is they who are doing me the favor,and I don't mean financially. I am the one who is receiving the biggest rewards from the situation. I get to do a little pampering for the person who was literally connected to Bob for nine months. Maybe that is why I feel such a connection to Bob when I wash her hair.

Every week I get to nurture the woman who nurtured the father of my children, I think that is pretty special.

Thanks for checking in-



  1. I really teared up reading this... thanks, Irene, for another beautiful reflection.

  2. I really connected to this story. I miss shaving my husband and rubbing his feet to comfort him.