Saturday, January 11, 2014

stella was the mom...

stella had been bathed
a short while before i arrived
at the rehab facility
where she was receiving therapy.
she was soundly sleeping.
so as not to wake her,
i made my way over to a chair
in the corner of her room
and sat with donna,
one of stella's beloved care-givers.

donna is very easy to talk to:
she is fun and funny,
loving and caring,
most importantly, very kind.
stella counts her as a blessing.


the longer we sat and talked,
the more nostalgic i became.
donna mentioned
she had seen a photo of jack
i had posted to jeda's facebook wall
on her birthday.
i chuckled.

me: you know,
when i was growing up,
there weren't any other kids
in the neighborhood.
so, i played with jack.
he was my best friend!

donna (looking over at stella):
and stella?

me: no, jack was my best friend.
stella was the mom.

donna: oh.

me: don't get me wrong, 
i love and have always loved
but jack was my buddy...
while we did our thing outside,
stella was in the house
making us coke or sweet tea in ball jars,
and preparing dinner.

donna smiled.


 yes, most definitely...
jack was the kid, and 
stella was the mom.

from my little-girl-perspective,
that's how i saw it.
stella was a good mom to jack and me.
she had a hard job keeping jack in line,
but she did it beautifully.
she took care of him,
she took care of me.

with both of my parents
working long hours,
i was a latchkey kid.
i wasn't allowed to answer the door
but was allowed to go to jack's and stella's house
if they were at home and didn't mind.
thankfully they were home a lot,
they never made me feel
like they minded my company.

over the years,
jack taught me how 
to play basketball,
to air up my bike tires,
to shoot a bb gun,
to form political opinions.

stella taught me how
to crochet a chain,
to cross-stitch,
to make hot chocolate,
to play tunes on her piano,
to behave like a classy lady.

jack and stella were my
on the lane.

it takes one,
you know.


as i looked over at stella,
i noticed her
head was sliding
off the edge of her pillow.
so, i walked over to the side of her bed
and began to rearrange
her pillows.

me: hey, stella, it's dani.
stella: hey, dani.
me: is this better?
stella: yes.
me: do you want a drink of water?
stella: i think i do.

as she took a couple of sips of water,
donna began to rearrange
her sheet and blankets.

donna: are your heels
getting sore, mrs. davis?

i sat down the cup of water
and moved to the foot of stella's bed
to raise her feet while
donna placed a pillow beneath
the lower calves of her legs.
as i lowered her feet
i rubbed one of her heels.

stella: ah, that feels good.


i crawled onto the foot
of stella's bed
and began to gently rub her heel.
donna brought a jar of cream
over to me.
after greasing my hands with it,
i commenced to massage her feet...
first her heels,
then her arches,
lastly her toes.

when i got to her toes,
i began to feel really emotional.
i took notice:
they were worn yet soft,
they were curled and crooked
yet functional,
they were in need of a pedicure
yet showed signs of having 
had one recently.
stella's feet began to divulge
to me
who she really was.
each individual toe
spoke to me and reminded me
that stella davis was 
a humble servant...
to her husband,
to her mother,
to her children,
to the patrons of their
dry-cleaning business,
to her church,
and to her neighbors.

all at once,
i found myself
in a very intimate place
with this woman
whom i have loved and admired
most all my life.


so as not to break,
i quickly turned and 
looked over at donna.

me: does stella have any toenail clippers?

donna: no, but i have some
fingernail clippers in my purse
and a file.
here, will these work?

me: i think so, thank you.

i stood up and looked around
the room for something
to place beneath stella's feet
to catch her nail filings.


after i clipped and filed,
i found a washcloth
and dampened it to wipe
off her feet.
when i came out of her restroom,
donna looked at me
and crinkled her forehead.

donna: that better be warm,
or she will fuss at you!

at that,
we both laughed.
i returned to the restroom,
ran the tap until it was very warm,
re-wet the cloth,
and resumed my place
at stella's feet.
i gently washed,
recovered them
with her sheet and blankets.


last sunday,
God blessed me...
by allowing me to bring pleasure to,
by allowing me to remember,
by allowing me to experience a precious,
most intimate moment with...
this woman,
this mother,
this neighbor
i hold so dear.

love and God's blessings,
dani xxx


Betty Norment said...

This is about the sweetest thing I've ever read, Dani. My mom was buried with pink polish on her toes. Never in her life had she wanted a color on her toes, preferring natural, but I knew that someone at Breckinridge place had cared enough about her in her final days to do this kind and intimate thing. I figured she could carry that love to glory. Bless you for going the extra mile to show your love for Stella. And for sharing some of the background for your loving spirit.

Sally said...

Dani, you are and have been a friend to so many. Such a sweet post,and while reading I was remembering my granddaughter doing the same for my mom; she was 13 and still has that heart that you do. You're both inspirations.