Monday, March 9, 2009

Backscratchers make me cry

Recently, I was at the local dollar store when while checking out, I glanced over at a container next to the checkout counter. There in the container were about two dozen backscratchers. Have you ever seen a wooden backscratcher? Has seeing a backscratcher ever make you cry?

Well, I was in tears when I saw the backscratchers because it brought back memories of my mother’s illness, non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. One of the side effects of this disease is terrible itching. My mother had a backscratcher by her side at home, at the hospital, in the car, everywhere she went. It was my job to use the backscratcher on her back, on the back of her arms, at her waist, wherever she had the horrible itch. She would tell me that I did the best job of using the backscratcher and wanted me to do it whenever I was with her.

When she lifted her top so I could scratch her, I would see the blood spots, the discoloration of her skin, the tumors, and the skin appearing to be rotting. I was horrified! I would turn my face away from her when I used the backscratcher so she couldn’t see the tears running down my face. I wanted to run out of the room, escape. But I knew the pleasure she received from me using her backscratcher on her so I accommodated her wishes.

Her skin was so thin that I had to be very careful that the skin would not tear and bleed or that it would not exacerbate the oozing coming out of her pores. But how could I deny her the only pleasure or relief in the waning years of her life?

My mother passed away after over two years of agony and in pain. The backscratchers were a symbol of her pain. Maybe one day I will be able to look at a backscratcher again and not cry.