If there is one aspect of my father that I recall as a constant throughout his life as I knew it, it was his obsession with humidification.
It seemed he was always fussing with a humidifier or a dehumidifier. Emptying a tank. Filling a tank. Developing networks of tubes to automatically empty a tank. With results measured by humidistats in every room.
And, yes, I have followed in his footsteps.
His final humidifying gift to me was a tip to pick up an inexpensive travel humidifier from Home Hardware. He had two of them, and swore by them. Fed from any standard-mouthed pop bottle, the ultrasonic “Classic” model that he recommended sells for less than $30, and emits a pleasant mist of water vapour into its surroundings. Easy to fill, easy to move around, easy to clean.
Of course I bought one.
And then, last month, when Catherine was at the Palliative Care Centre, I noticed that the air there was very dry, and so I brought the Classic in, set it up above her bed, and her mother and I took turns keeping it refilled, day and night.
Volunteers, nurses, and doctors noticed it—it’s hard to miss because the vapour-emitting nozzle glows with a bright blue light—and decided that it was just the thing for other residents in need of humidification. So the handyman was despatched, and two were acquired. It makes me happy to think that they’re in service today, giving small comfort; a gift, both from Catherine, and from my father.
Oliver, alas, has come down with the head cold that seems to be going around.
“I can’t breathe,” he complained tonight before bed.
I knew just what was needed.
I rummaged around in the cardboard box that came home from Palliative Care—yes, I need to attend to that box—found the Classic, opened it up and gave it a clean, and it’s on Oliver’s bedside table tonight, giving small comfort.
Between that, and the VapoRub that Oliver insisted that I rub on his chest, because that’s what Catherine used to do, I feel tonight like I’m not, completely, parenting alone.