It seemed so unattainable at first. Her Mom said, “Stacey, you will bring Dorothee to work for your Dad. It is easy.”
Okay – so it was not so easy. The application forms for a foreign live-in caregiver changed three times in between one step of approval to the next. I am not a good paper-person to begin with and so having to re-do application forms almost killed me. Dorothee’s Mom said, “Stacey, it will work out. You will see. Don’t worry.” Dorothee’s Mom, Tessie, you see was also anxious to have her family reunited and Dorothee was the last child she had to bring to Canada.
Dorothee landed for another employer in British Columbia. She didn’t really understand how BIG Canada was and so, thinking that she could visit Barrie, Ontario on week-ends was logical. She paid her fees to a nanny agency and was all set to babysit for a family of five. As luck – or no luck depending on how you look at – would have it, the family cancelled their contact the last minute and Dorothee was left in a new country with no job. Well – there was a job – it was just in Barrie.
To make a long story short, Dorothee’s first day with Dad was – how shall I put this – quiet. She was shy – very young – and homesick. What an ordeal to have flown so far away from her husband and daughter to a new country with a different language, different customs, and different food! And what was even worse was that Dad ate POTATOES every day… not rice.
It did not take long, however, for Dorothee to find herself at Dad’s home. She and Ana would take turns on shift with Dad. Throughout the week while they were on duty, I never had to worry about what was happening, whether Dad was happy, or whether Dad had care.
Dorothee adopted my Dad as her own. Her quiet manner would sometimes give way to comedy as she and Ana giggled at some of Dad’s expressions. “Bologne!” Dad would respond when they told them how in the Philippines they whistled for the wind to come. They teased Dad that they would prepare a nice fish for him – and especially the eyeballs. “Yum, crunchy!”, they would say.
Dorothee involved my Dad in her life and he would advise her how she should save her money. “Did you go shopping and spend money?”, Dad would ask.
“Yes, but everything was on sale. I got some very good deals, father.” Dorothee would answer. And Ana would remain silent behind Dorothee hoping she would not be asked the same question.
I would often pop over to Dad’s house for a brief visit – unexpectedly – and ALWAYS be welcomed with gracious hospitality by the Dancing Nannies. Dorothee would always know the answer to the question, Stacey, would you like a glass of wine.” And the dance began.
“Are you having one, Dad?” I would inquire..
“Only if you are.”, came the response.
Dorothee knew this dance well – and the wine would already be beside my Mom’s former chair where I took up residence when I came to visit.
They were happy, the three of them: Dad, Ana, and Dorothee. They were a family. They laughed together, cried together, worried together when Dad became ill, and they celebrated together.
I will never be able to thank Dorothee, however, for what she gave to Dad during his final moments. If I could capture her the way I see her in my mind’s eye in words I would be forever grateful. The memory that defines “Dorothee” for the person she is was created during the final day of Dad’s life. My brother, Ana, and I were getting lessons about how to administer morphine. I was anxious. I hate needles and I knew where this was headed. Morphine, in Mom’s case, signaled the end. There were few words exchanged. There were a lot of glances exchanged. There was a great “understanding” among all of us that this was it. Dorothee watched as the stint was inserted and the first needle injected. And that was all it took. Ana was right beside her. And my brother and I shook. It was was it was and it needed to happen. Every two hours, we administered the morphine – whether it was needed or not. That was a decision that we arrived at after much discussion and prayer. At one point – I seemed to be in a daze. One slips almost into a robotic state when faced with circumstances such as these. Here is my memory. Dorothee – almost floated into the room. She did not exchange glances, did not talk, but went right away to Dad. She lovingly examined him to ensure that he was comfortable. She was graceful, gentle, and her movement reassured me that he was in good hands. Then, she tenderly pulled up his shirt – only far enough to have access to the stint – and inserted the morphine. As quietly and tenderly as she arrived, she left. She was angelic in her movements. She was almost more pure energy than form. I saw the love between my Dad and Dorothee. He had adopted her too. Their exchange was certainly not something that anyone else could have seen had they not had the history – but I saw it – and I was deeply moved.
This post, today, is dedicated to Dorothee. It is her birthday today. And she will celebrate it – too – without Dad. This will be a first for her – it would have been a second birthday celebration with Dad … and I know she will note his absence.
Dorothee has become a part of my family now. It is difficult to describe the type of relationship that I have with her as a result of her compassion for my Dad – but there is no other person who shares “that” bond and “that moment” with Dorothee other than me. Dorothee is well loved by her family and friends.
Today – I celebrate Dorothee and offer her my most heart-felt, “thanks”!
Happy birthday Dorothee! I wish others the opportunity to have a “moment” with Dorothee.