Giggling my way through Cathy Sikorski’s memoir, Showering with Nana: Confessions of a Serial (Killer) … Caregiver, I recalled hearing an old Irish proverb that goes like this:
A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.
Sikorski, who cared for her 92 year-old grandmother and two year-old daughter Rachel simultaneously, would undoubtedly agree.
Showering with Nana
Co-opted to care for Nana for six months, Sikorski entered this agreement with a mix of apprehension and acquiescence. This was her beloved grandmother who had taken care of her and her five siblings for decades with total love in their multi-generational home. As an elder care lawyer, Sikorski was attuned to the needs and rhythms of the nonagenarian demographic.
But nothing could have prepared her for what was to come.
In a diary format, Sikorski takes us along on this bumpy ride in which every day presents a challenge or five. Early on she discovered that toddlers and nonagenarians actually have a lot in common.
- They wear diapers. And poop in said diapers.
- Naps are a daily necessity.
- If all else fails, ice cream is an effective bribery tool.
- They must be watched constantly. Or else all hell can break loose.
Which is precisely what happened.
There was the time Sikorski came upon Rachel playing happily in the bathtub while Nana was in the process of scrubbing it (the tub, not Rachel) with Comet. In horror, Sikorski saw her daughter covered in the caustic powder and sucking on a toilet brush. Nana in her equanimity looked at her and said, “See? Now the shower’s clean and so is the baby. A double duty.”
And then the trip to the mall. What better way to occupy a toddler and an elderly person for a couple of hours? Only Sikorski lost Nana during the two minutes she looked away and had mall security doing a shakedown.
Or the time when she noticed Nana and Rachel munching on a snack and discovered it was dog food.
Funniest of all are the episodes of diaper stories. When you’ve got one of your charges in Huggies and the other in Depends, there is a lot of sh*t happening. It was one of these predicaments that led to the title of the book. But you’ll have to read it to find out.
Through it all Sikorski learns a lot about patience, inner strength and what it means to be tired all the time. But most of all, she learned that whenever possible, laughter is the best recourse.
Showering with Nana is a funny book, but it also pulls the heartstrings. Sikorski is a terrific writer and communicates her range of emotions, from frustration to tenderness to anger and then back to frustration. She writes dialogue so well, I could hear Nana calling her “honey girl” and I could hear Rachel’s sweet little toddler voice announcing “I find Nana’s pottyboot.” (pocketbook)
For anyone going through a difficult time, especially with aging parents or grandparents, this book will lift the spirits.
And show us that when life gets tough, the tough figure out how to laugh.