She enters. It is still dark. She smiles frankly. She is not yet 30 years old. She lives in a small apartment not far from here with her two children. Her husband works in a warehouse. She says she is happy to see our father again this morning. That he looks better. They answer him vaguely: Do you think so? She adds that she does not see it much, a slight release in the eyes, more mobile today, or the attention that returns this morning when we speak to her. We don’t really know anymore. We feel useless, incapable, exhausted by the exhaustion of the other.
The caregiver, in a few gentle and precise gestures, testifies to a commitment to life that contradicts our dismay, in the face of the suffering and paralysis of our father. She undresses, she washes and cleans, soothes, changes the clothes, massages. She speaks delicately, to explain her gestures. Excrements, sweat, liquids, pain, she comes to grips with it.
Our father moves his lips. A silent conversation settled between them. She guesses his shame and his pain. She responds with more care and attention. She catches our embarrassed looks, understands our helplessness and gently laughs at us. She says, I know it’s hard. But me, it’s my job. She addresses our father and congratulates him on having children like us. I tell her that I find her job very trying and thank her for being there, with our father. What is needed, she replies, is never to forget that we are doing all of this for someone like us, who could be part of our family, and that is what we would like to see us do. ‘we do for us a day, if necessary.
→ READ. A report proposes to double the number of nursing staff in nursing homes
I would like to express my gratitude to her, my relief to be able to count on her, but I cannot extricate myself from the grief that is choking me. I confide here, a few hours after leaving Toulouse, and taking our parents in an ambulance to a Parisian nursing home. On the morning of departure, she insisted on being there at 6 a.m. ” I would not like, did she say, that your dad makes the trip without being clean and neat. “ And then, above all, she wanted to say goodbye to him.
I can only pay homage to him with these lines. She is a caregiver. She would like one day to have a house and a garden for her family. She is paid a ridiculous amount by the hour while she holds one of those last obscure ramparts, often abandoned, and on which our most naked humanity depends as a last resort. His tireless dedication obliges us. So, I thought to myself, most of the time we live without thinking that there are such people. who “Do the job”, as she herself bravely put it. The job of helping to live, of holding onto the dignity of each person. Alleviate fear, shame and anguish as much as physical suffering. What is not visible outside the darkness of the rooms, what is repressed from ourselves, from our most raw intimacy, a woman like her teaches us that of all this, this little and this worst , depends on our most beautiful humanity.
→ CHRONICLE. Gift and presence of old age
Ah I forgot… She was not born in France. She had to wait years to get a residence permit. Of our ordinary hatred (so loud these days), she doesn’t want to hear a thing. She “Does the job” with all the humanity needed. Me, she impressed me, she gave me confidence in all of us. I will long remember this woman watching my father’s sighs, and her absolute benevolence, her smile like a happy breach in the coming night. She taught me this truth: we are one body, beyond our ages, our origins and our differences. Our simple human duty is to honor this unique body, to the end.