I dreamed I took care of two elderly women along with my usual charges, my children. One of these women was my mother and she had recently undergone surgery on her legs.
We had been staying in a guesthouse in the country, sharing with other families. At one stage I was alone with my daughter and we were busy packing. I had trouble filling and sealing off our suitcase.
My family had dined the night before with another guest family and I had found myself critical of this other family, particularly the father. In my dream I could see that he too had trouble zipping up his suitcase.
There was something in this process, filling up and sealing off suitcases ready for transport that marked not only a departure, but also our transition back home where we lined up in turn for the bathroom.
I was in the middle of brushing my teeth and needed to close off the bathroom door, which had become one of those doors they build in horse stables – split in the middle on the horizontal. I closed off the bottom half of the door but I could still be seen over the top.
My daughter stood guard for me, until I had finished brushing my teeth and then I made way for one of the two old women who had queued outside, toilet bags in their hands, still in their dressing gowns.
My mother used the bathroom first. I pulled out a bath mat so that she would not slip when she left the shower. She asked me to help her, not only with the shower but also with her leg exercises. The physio had told her that she must start by stretching out her legs straight several times a day. My mother feared she could not do this for the pain. She sat on the floor tiles, naked, an old and wrinkled woman, her body sagged onto the cold tiles and I piled a towel underneath her bottom for comfort.
I watched as she straightened out both legs in front and I tried to imagine her pain. She did not grimace and seemed surprised that she could straighten them out completely but she did not want to repeat the procedure. She did, though. I watched as she stretched her legs out three times and then I woke up.