...You also ought to wash one another’s feet.—JOHN 13:14 (NRSV)
After two serious falls, my 92-year-old father-in-law could no longer stay in his own home in Minnesota where he had lived his whole life. With understandable reluctance, he moved to a senior-living community just a mile and a half from our home in Wisconsin. My wife is his only child, and I am her caregiver on her journey with Alzheimer’s disease. So now I have become a dual caregiver.
Every Friday I give Dad a shower at this apartment. When he first moved in, he fussed that the walk-in shower was just a cheap alternative to a real bathtub. Now, with his walker, he is able to get into the shower and sit on the bench almost unassisted. I trim the fringe of his bald head and shave where he has missed on his face. Then I wet him down, lather him up and rinse him off. Drying calls for gentle patting of his fragile limbs and delicate skin.
I look forward to showering him every Friday as a sort of spiritual exercise. He is vulnerable but comfortably rests in his trust of my tender touch and respect for him. One Friday recently after I’d finished with Dad and was leaving the facility, the woman at the reception desk said, “You’re such a good son-in-law.”
“He’s done a lot for us over the years,” I told her. “Loving him is part of loving my wife.” By showering him, I believe I am also learning to love God.