I was very happy, when I saw him at the end of March, that he was feeling lively enough to give me an encore performance when I began taking his picture.
On this particular morning, I watch as he struggles to open a can of pineapple with a hand-operated can opener – the sort that you clamp down on the can and then turn the knob. He will be having cataract surgery in a few days, and I expect his difficulty is partly because he can’t see too well.
Would you like me to help?
Nah. I can get this, he says.
I restrain myself from grabbing the can and the can opener and leave the kitchen to do some cleanup in the bathroom.
When I return, he has indeed opened the can the old-fashioned way, the way they used to do it, before the second-generation of can openers was invented. He has used a “church key” to punch holes around the edge and has grabbed pliers from the junk drawer to pull up the lid enough to shake out the pineapple. He has managed to do this without cutting himself. Whew!
I understand how important it is not to try to take over doing the few things that he is still able to do for himself. My sister suggested that I not leap up to do the dishes after breakfast. Let him take care of it, she says. So I don't. I also leave the drainer full of air-dried dishes so that he can put them away himself. In the first few days of cleaning up after myself, I put a few things away where they did not belong. He has come behind me and rearranged the knives in the knife holder, and I have put the containers that are used for leftovers in the wrong spot.
We made some major mistakes in trying to control what Richard’s father did when he came to live with us. I don’t see my father very often, but I am determined not to make similar mistakes when I do.