Two and one half months is a long time to be off your feet. It doesn't seem long, at the beginning, because we all know how fast two months can race by when you're waiting for something good to happen like a vacation or Christmas. But when the mechanism of your household is wound tightly around your 'go' button, two months of watching your family bravely try to keep up with chores they were previously unfamiliar with is a long, painful process. For instance, although my family is not totally unacquainted with how the recyclable can gets to the curb, the 'when' portion of that chore seems more elusive. Chlorine for the pool is easy enough to do but for some reason nobody can do the math when it comes to how the pool turned green. Still, they have soldiered on, finally understanding the consequences of not wiping the dog hair off the furniture or what a toilet bowl can become if left to it's own devices.
There is one chore, however, that not one individual in my household (of which now number five humans and three dogs) will lower him/herself to take on a regular basis. Or even an occasional one. That would be loading and unloading the dishwasher. Regardless of how precarious the pile in the sink or how fetid the odor, dishwashing will continue to be mine and mine alone. I offered to show Paul what the sleek white box under the counter does but no amount of coaxing could get him to take a peek inside. He prefers to wash (most of) his own dishes after use if in fact he remembers to get said dish to the kitchen at all. Ben made his own declaration about dishes early on; since he took over the lions share of cooking duties he flatly refused to do any dish, pot or pan that came in contact with any of his cooking. Ben is not, as you might surmise, a clean-as-you-go kind of cook. Just to give you a visual on what our kitchen looks like after a meal.
The no-dish-washing moratorium even extended to my friends. Gratefully, I accepted several offers to come to my house and prepare meals for me and my family. I got to sit at the kitchen table with a chopping board and a glass of wine while Karen meticulously followed my instructions on sauteing, braising and reducing. The results were marvelous and we had a number of delicious dinners and wine, followed by a morning of not-so-delicious hangovers and a trashed kitchen. Karen does NOT clean. Kristy's cooking episode was even worse - we had more wine than food and the number of glasses that littered every available surface including the front porch where I never even ventured out on indicated that for every person in attendance we used at least three glasses apiece.
As I stood at the sink this morning, one leg lifted in a flamingo-like pose, I pondered my situation. In the two months since my ankle surgery there has been rarely a morning when I did not wheel myself into the kitchen to make coffee (park, stand on one leg, get the coffee, sit, wheel the chair to the sink, stand, wash out the carafe, sit, wheel back, finish making the coffee) when I did not also survey the kitchen in horror and attempt to restore order before my head exploded.
On the one hand, it was apparent that nothing short of a coma will absolve me from dish duty. On the other, I do have some leverage should my loving family ever threaten me with placement in a retirement home. Since those with Alzheimer's usually retain the motor skills and memory of the tasks that are ingrained in them from years of repetition, I may well lose my ability to speak coherently (Paul will no doubt be pleased about that possibility) but I'm pretty sure I will still remember how to stack dishes. My usefulness to the household by virtue of that one task will ensure me a place at home for a long, long time. It's a comfort, actually.