Chore

Over the weekend
I visited Dad
in his assisted care facility.
We went out to lunch,
did some shopping,
and talked a lot.
Later we sat outside in the autumn sun
and I clipped his long fingernails,
something he can no longer do for himself.
“Boy, my toenails need it too,” he said.
So we went inside
and he sat in his comfortable chair
while I sat on the floor before him.
I removed his shoes and socks
and held his soft 87-year-old feet gently
as I carefully trimmed those bent, thick nails,
wanting to be sure that I didn’t hurt him.
It took a while.
That evening, hearing about my day with Dad,
a friend asked, “Did you mind doing that?”
My response was immediate.
“No, I didn’t mind at all.
In fact, I found it very meaningful.
I rather loved it.”
I don’t know how Dad felt,
because he never said,
other than being appreciative.
But I know how I felt.
I felt useful,
able to do something that Dad needed.
I felt pleased,
that he would ask me, then allow me,
to do this personal act for him.
I felt tenderness for him and closeness to him
as I cradled and massaged his feet
and tended those stubborn nails.
I felt great respect for this man
who has shown such strength through his life,
and is now showing that strength in other ways.
“Someday I’ll miss not being able to do this anymore,”
I said to myself as I lingered
in my caregiving chore.
Except it wasn’t a chore at all.
It was a contented act of love.
Perhaps you know that experience too.

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