It started out like any other summer morning. I was sitting out on my back deck enjoying a cup of coffee and chatting about nothing in particular with my next-door neighbor, Susan. We did this often in the warm summer months. I'm a 57-year-old retiree & widower. Susan is thirty-two and a single mom with two adorable girls, aged twelve and ten. Her husband was killed five years ago in Iraq. The death benefits left her with a paid up mortgage and a decent enough income, but it didn't quite meet all of her financial needs, so she worked evenings in a local health food store. It was one of those places that pushed alternative medicines and therapies along with the usual vitamins, herbs and such stuff. I didn't realize at the time what an influence this would later have on things.
I was lucky enough to be financially independent. I had started a small Internet business in 1991 that grew to become a very successful Internet business. The company barely survived the dot com crash of 2000, but it survived. I built the company back to an even stronger position of strength and industry respect over the next couple of years, and then sold everything in 2003. I came out of it all with a few million in the bank. I retired early at fifty, planning to enjoy many years of the good life with Lora, my wife of 25 years. We didn't want to spend money on a huge McMansion we didn't need but chose to keep our modest upper-middle class home in our quiet neighborhood of mixed middle & upper-middle class homes. Instead, Lora and I planned to buy an RV and tour the US, seeing all the historical sites and National Parks we could. We thought that after we got tired of that, we could either take a few cruises or see Europe.
Cancer crushed that dream just as it was getting started less than six months later when Lora's abdominal pain became too great for her to conceal from me. I had noticed her weight loss and reduced appetite, but didn't suspect anything was wrong at first. I insisted she see a doctor. A diagnosis of uterine cancer destroyed our dreams of a long, happy retirement together. By the time the cancer was found, it was too late and the cancer had spread to her other organs. She died in my arms a few short, pain-filled months later. I hope you never, ever have to watch a loved one die slowly from that insidious disease.
A few women my own age came sniffing around soon after Lora's funeral offering a sympathetic shoulder, bosom, crotch, or wherever else I wanted to lay my head, or any other body part. Their not-so-subtle offers had little effect on me. I'd been married twice before I was 25, back when I was young and foolish. But when I met Lora, I realized I had found my soul mate. When I lost her, I lost a part of myself. There was no replacing her in my heart. These women were all middle-aged divorcees or widows fearful of spending another 20 or 30 years alone. They were needy, and they were greedy – not a good combination. There were even a couple of twenty-something year old gold diggers who tried their luck. They all found an unfriendly, or at least unccooperative, reception. None made it as far as a second date, let alone my bed. The word got around and I was eventually left alone. That's the way it had been, and the way I wanted it, for the last four years - and I liked it that way.
Susan, on the other hand, found her feelings of loss and grief for her husband, a captain in the Army, tempered by outraged betrayal when she learned the circumstances of his death a couple of months after his funeral. It seems that Cptn. Hubby was a lying, cheating jerk. He had been having an affair with a female sargent assigned as his personal assistant in his unit. They were riding together in a jeep on their way to a little secret lover's nest they had arranged just outside the Green Zone in Baghdad when their jeep struck an IED, killing both of them instantly. Susan learned of their affair when the army returned his personal effects and she found his diary and letters from his mistress detailing their affair. Susan was shocked to discover that the affair had started in the US months before his deployment with Sargent Bitch (Susan's name for her) wrangling a transfer to his unit in Iraq a couple of months after Captain Hubby's deployment. There was also an unmailed letter addressed to Susan where he told her of his intent to file for divorce. Fate, and an insurgent's bomb, stepped in before he could file for divorce, so Susan and her girls received full survivors benefits. Like me, Susan felt no urge to rejoin the singles scene, find a new mate or remarry.
So, this particular June Monday morning found Susan & I sitting on my back deck, drinking coffee as usual, and watching her girls play in my back yard. I had an in-ground pool and a pretty good-sized wooden jungle gym that I had bought for my grandkids. My son had received a promotion & transfer to his company's California branch, so the grandkids no longer were around to play. I was happy to let Kelley & Cassie play in my yard any time they wanted. It kinda helped keep the lonelies at bay. Today I noticed that Kellie seemed to be the only one actually playing. Cassie, the 10 yr old, was sitting off to one side with a miserable look on her face. I asked Susan, "What's wrong with Cassie? Is she sick?" Susan shook her head and said "I don't really think so. She doesn't have a fever." She sighed, "I let her go to a friend's pajama party overnight on Friday, and she's been acting like this more & more since Saturday evening."
"Let's see if we can find out a little info," I said.
"Cassie," I called out. "Could you come over here, please?" Cassie came over, but it was plain that she was out of sorts. "Would you like to sit on 'Uncle Jim's' knee and tell him what's wrong, Hon?" I asked. Both girls had started calling me 'Uncle Jim' years before when both were still very young. Cassie loved to sit on my lap, so she didn't hesitate to climb up on my knee, snuggle against me and lean her head against my chest, but she remained quiet and didn't volunteer any information about how she was feeling. "Hunnie-Bunnie, what's wrong? You sure act like a sick little girl today." I whispered in her ear. She wouldn't look up, but turned her head and spoke so quietly I could barely hear, "My tummy hurts."
"Sweetie, can I feel your tummy and you tell me where it hurts?" I asked. "Okay, I guess," was her whispered reply. I gently reached my hand around and began to lightly rub her lower abdomen. The first thing I noticed was that her lower stomach was quite hard. Moving my hand over to her left side, I started to press a little bit harder in the area of her colon. Sure enough, this elicited a little "oof" from Cassie when I pressed there. "Cassie?" I turned her face to look up at mine. "Tell me the truth. When's the last time you went to poop?" Cassie turned bright red and buried her face in my chest. "Come on, hon. It's ok. I just want to help make you feel better." Cassie mumbled something into my shirt I couldn't understand. "Let's try that again a little louder, please," I asked. "3 days," I heard this time.
Susan had been watching this exchange without comment. When Cassie said it had been three days since her last bowel movement, Susan looked at me and arched an eyebrow. "Yep," I replied. "Cassie's pipes are backed up. She's seriously constipated." Cassie started to sniffle and cry. "Am I gonna have to go to the doctor and get a shot?" Cassie had a real fear of hypodermic needles and equated every doctor visit with getting a shot. I started to gently stroke her hair and pat her on the back. "No sweetie. This is something we can fix right here at home." Susan spoke up. "Since working at the health food store I've been reading a lot about the harm that over the counter medicines can do. I really don't want to give Cassie some commercial laxative. They are all chemical irritants and I just don't want to feed those to my little girl."
"What about herbal laxatives?" I asked. I know there are several out there," Susan replied. "The only thing, dosing for a ten year old child is tricky, and it's going to take a day or two to be effective."
I spoke to Cassie again. "Sweetie, do you want to have this tummy ache another day or two, or would you rather get rid of it this morning?"
"Can you do that?" Cassie asked with a questioning look. "Will it hurt?" was the next question. No, Sweetheart, it won't hurt a bit," I reassured the sweet child in my arms. I looked over at Susan. She looked back at me with another questioning look. "Do you know where I'm going with this?" I asked. "I think so," she replied. "I'm suggesting that Cassie get an enema." I said. "Enemas were once the preferred method of relieving constipation, but fell into disfavor mainly from the marketing campaigns of the big drug companies pushing laxatives on an unsuspecting public. Now we spend billions every year to cure a common ailment that could be taken care of with just a little warm, soapy water."
Cassie had been listening to all of this, and then at the mention of 'soapy water' she spoke up. "What's an em-en-uh, and how can a bath cure my tummy ache and make me go poo?" I couldn't help but chuckle a little bit. Susan got a bemused smile on her face. "Cassie, it's pronounced 'enema, ' not emena. That's okay though. The warm soapy water is a bath, of sorts, but it goes inside you, not on the outside."
"Huh?" Cassie snorted. "I ain't drinking no soapy water!"
At this, Susan began to giggle to herself, trying hard not to laugh out loud. I managed to stifle everything but a big grin. "Sweet girl, you don't drink the soapy water." I replied. The look Cassie gave me was a classic. "Then how does it get inside me?" I leaned down and whispered in her ear. "It goes in your bottom." Cassie sat straight up like she'd been jabbed with a tack. Her eyes got as big around as saucers. "What!" she exclaimed. That sounds like a shot. Nobody's giving me a shot in my bottom!"
"Calm down Sweetie. That's not how it works." I explained. Cassie was now trembling as she sat on my lap. "I promise, sweetheart. No needles." I stroked and petted Cassie as I reassured her and she calmed down a bit. I looked over at Susan. "I'm guessing that you've never gave either of the girls an enema when they were younger?"
"No," Susan answered. "They never really needed anything. I think this is the first real case of constipation for either girl."
"Well..." I said, a bit hesitant to broach the suggestion in my mind. "I have all the necessary equipment in my bathroom. I was a child when enemas were the preferred method of treatment, and I grew up accepting them as a valid way to get rid of constipation without all the harsh chemical laxatives. I raised my own son & both daughters that way too. What say we take Cassie into my house, explain & show her what an enema is all about so she's not afraid, then fix her little problem and have her back feeling like her old self before lunch?"
"Let's do it!" Susan said with a smile on her face. "I was hoping you would volunteer. I don't think I could get Cassie to hold still for me, but she trusts you like you were her own grandpa." Susan shouted at Kelley to go in the house and play in her room or watch a DVD. She wasn't allowed to play by the pool without an adult present. I stood up, scooping Cassie up in my arms as I did so. She wrapped her arms around my neck and her legs around my waist and hung on like she was being carried to her doom. As we walked in I kept whispering reassuring words in her ear that I would never hurt her and she would soon be feeling much better. I don't think she really believed me.
I lead the way to my master bedroom and sat Cassie down on the edge of my King-sized bed. Susan sat next to her and put her arm around her daughter and gave her a little hug. Cassie was getting that nervous colt look again. Her eyes were darting around the room and I could see a slight tremble to her chin. Her eyes were filled and ready to spill over with tears. I pulled up a chair and sat facing Cassie. I gently reached out and cupped Cassie's chin in my hand and tilted her head up so that she was looking me eye to eye. "Cassie, do you trust me?"
"Uh-huh, I guess so." More chin quivering followed this remark. "Sweetie, You know I would never deliberately hurt you." I cupped her face in both hands and planted a gentle, grandfatherly kiss on her forehead. "Uh-huh." A little less chin quivering this time. "But, but ... I don't want a shot, and this sounds like a shot! I was a bit surprised at the forcefulness of this last statement. "Cassie, let me get the enema equipment and show you how it works. Then you will understand and see that it isn't anything like a shot with a needle. "Okay, I guess." This was said in a bit more subdued manner, but there was still a bit of defiance.
I got up and went into the master bath just off the bedroom and started looking through the upper shelf of the linen closet. There it was, right where I thought it should be – a brand new, still in the box, 8 oz Faultless bulb syringe. I'd bought it several years ago while my wife was still alive. One thing I had neglected to mention to Susan was that Lora & I often used enemas as part of our playtime. The top shelf of that closet held all sorts of interesting enema toys from Silver Bullet nozzles to various sizes and styles of enema bags, a white porcelain enema can, Japanese clear plexiglass Klyster style syringes, and even an antique brass klyster. I grabbed the bulb syringe and a bar of Castille enema soap and walked back in to my bedroom to where Cassie and Susan were sitting on the edge of my bed.
I sat down next to Cassie and handed her the bar of soap. "This is Castille soap," I explained. "It's made from olive oil and is 100% natural." My last comment was directed more at Susan than Cassie. "It is used to make up a little warm soapy water. The soapy water will stimulate your insides and make you have a strong urge to go to the potty."
"How does the soapy water get inside me?" Cassie asked while staring at the red bulb syringe with it's black nozzle. "It's pretty simple, really." I said while picking up he enema syringe. "I make up the soapy water in a bowl, making it just warm enought to feel comfortable - like your bath." Then I squeeze this bulb and use it to suck up some of the soapy water out of the bowl." At that moment I pointed the nozzle at Cassie's face and gave a quick squeeze to the bulb, giving Cassie a sharp, short blast of air in her face. Cassie flinched at the unexpected air blast, then giggled in surprise. Her mom, Susan, also flinched and giggled. I had thought that this might relieve some of the tension in the room, and it apparently worked. Cassie had a slight grin and had lost a lot of that "deer in the headlights" look in her eyes. I leaned over to whisper in Cassie's ear, "The enema nozzle goes in your bottom where you poop, then I squeeze the red bulb real slowly and the warm water goes inside you. After a few minutes to wait for the soapy water to do it's job, you will need to go potty!"
Well, so much for relaxing Cassie...
"WHAT?" Cassie shouted. "That sounds like a SHOT! It'll hurt! I know it'll hurt!"
Cassie was near tears again and looked like she was ready to bolt from the room. Susan spoke for the first time since entering my bedroom. "Cassie dear, It doesn't hurt at all. I've had a couple of enemas before, and they actually felt kinda nice. They might have felt real nice, but I was in the middle of labor with you and Kelley at the time."
Cassie's expression and voice changed from fear to defiance. "If it feels so nice, why don't you prove it and let Uncle Jim give you an enema and show me it doesn't hurt?" I looked at Susan and shrugged as if to say "The ball is in your court now." Susan's face was a complete blank for at least a couple of minutes as she stared straight ahead. Finally, she turned to Cassie. "If I do this, will you promise to let Jim give you an enema without all the fuss and drama?" Cassie had a bit of a surprised look on her face. "You would really do this for me?" Susan looked straight into Cassie's eyes and replied, "Of course, Sweetie. I love you and want you to feel better. But even more than that, I do not want you frightened by this." Cassie looked thoughtful, then said "Ok, mom. I promise." Susan turned to me, and with a bit of a blush, asked me, "Ok, how do we do this?"
I got up and walked across the bedroom to my combination walk-in closet & dressing room. I had gave away, donated and generally got rid of most of Lora's clothing and personal items over the years, but there were still a few things I could not bring myself to part with. One of those things was a silk bathrobe Lora had never had the chance to wear before she got sick. It was a beautiful pale blue Japanese robe with tasteful embroidery around the sleeves and hem. I handed the robe to Susan and asked her to undress and put on the robe. "You can keep your bra on, if you wish," I said, " but you might as well leave your panties off. They would just need to be removed anyway before we could proceed." Susan's blush deepened a bit but she took the robe from my hand. "The closet doubles as a dressing room," I explained. "Just change in there and I'll prepare the enema in the bathroom."
Susan walked into the closet/dressing room and closed the door. I went into the bathroom and took an old antique ceramic wash basin out of the closet, then proceeded to fill it with very warm water. I knew the water would cool a bit by the time we were ready. After swirling the bar of Castille soap around in the bowl for a bit, I placed the on the marble-topped brass cart Lora had bought in an antique store years ago just for this purpose. (If you haven't guessed, we were antique nuts and partially indulged our Klysmaphilia habit by collecting Victorian era enema & bathroom equipment.) I grabbed a small jar of petrolatum jelly from the medicine cabinet, a couple of thick bath towels and a wash cloth and rolled everything back into the bedroom. Cassie had moved to the middle of my King-sized bed and was sitting up against the headboard with her arms wrapped around her tummy. I guess being alone for a few minutes reminded her that her tummy-ache was still with her and the reason she was here. I took the enema syringe off the night stand and placed it next to the wash basin on the cart. Susan was still in the dressing room. "Susan, come on out. Everything is ready," I said, giving a quick knock on the closet door.