Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CLUMSY (04/11/19)
TITLE: Dignity Found In Indignity
By Linda Lawrence
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Committed to caring for my husband until “death do us part,” I was not prepared for the physical, mental and spiritual gymnastics involved—so much harder than I had imagined.
A body without muscular control is unwieldy. It’s still disconcerting to remember my clumsy attempts to move my husband from bed to commode to walker to wheelchair, groaning under the weight and grief at my undignified handling of his body which deserved so much better.
His spirit was strong but his physical body had always been weak. He was used to his intestines demeaning failures and was not perturbed about, what for me would have been, unbearable humiliation. His sense of humor held him in good stead when caught in embarrassing situations that paralyze most people.
But I’ve never been good at laughing at bathroom humor. I wanted to treat my husband’s body with dignity. But even with the help of commodes and catheters and diapers, a Hoyer lift and hospital bed, urinals and bedpans, I could only blunder and stumble and cry with shame at my inability to provide genteel care.
I know my own body snorts and snores and makes other unwanted noises, yet I like to think of myself as ladylike. Dignity is important to me—maybe too important. I projected my own discomfort on him and he couldn’t understand my distress.
Our children and grandchildren were scheduled to fly in for a week’s visit. I stressed out over how I could be an attentive grandmother and yet attend to all my husband’s caregiving needs. Well, actually my need to hide all signs of diapers and pads and urinals and clean up supplies. I wanted to maintain an illusion that grandma and grandpa’s house, the Herb of Grace, had not become a nursing home.
I assume the Lord chuckled as He allowed a situation that I cannot even make myself describe. It was a chaotic, unsanitary debacle that could not have been more unrefined or crass. “Honey, I’m so, so sorry,” I cried, assuming my husband was as mortified as I was.
“This is nothing,” he said, patting my shaking hand, “I grew up in a house full of boys.” Since I did not, I’m still not sure what that meant, but I realized he was simply humbled, not humiliated.
Jesus said that whatever we’ve done for our brothers and sisters, we’ve done for Him. Washing feet with tears and wiping them with one’s hair may have been awkward, but not compared to wiping bottoms. My youthful romanticized vision for marriage and for serving Jesus never involved such seemingly unseemly service.
But I thank the Lord that we sensed His presence with us as we struggled with the puzzling conundrum of dealing with the body’s plumbing. As I clumsily, self-consciously tried to be genteel, the Lord Himself faithfully breathed into us the perseverance and perspective needed. My husband and I were enabled to finish his race with our God-given dignity in its proper place.
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