Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Body Beautiful (Number 20 in a series)

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139: 14 (KJV)

A caregiver faces many issues. Beyond the physical demands of helping someone to rise from a bed or chair are the emotional demands of assisting in nutrition or personal hygiene.

For my mother, meals consist of liquids hung in a gravity-feed bag called a kangaroo pouch. The nutritional liquid goes through a tube into a valve implanted in her stomach wall – a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube. Each feeding and/or dose of medication requires exposing her upper abdomen for access to the tube.

Because she is weak and has poor balance, Mama requires help bathing and even going to the bathroom. She laments having to let me see her body, embarrassed by the lack of privacy and modesty she must experience. Although I try to be mindful of her dignity, sometimes we both fall prey to giggling fits as I wash and dry her feet, particularly between her toes. Neither of us is in a very dignified position at that moment!

Through all of this, I am amazed by her. Her limbs are wrapped in crepe-like skin, slack against out-of-tone muscles. Yet she works to pull herself up, to walk back and forth to try to build her strength. Although she’s given birth to four daughters, her stomach is still flat, although the skin is not smooth. I marvel at the grip of her gnarled hands, as we lock forearms to steady her gait.

How wondrous is the human body! Even as it winds down, it is a thing of amazing beauty. The gentleness of her touch and the comfort of her embrace are still delights. Her smile, when I can entice one from her, is as warm as June sunshine.

One day I will have to say farewell to her body. The truth which comforts me is that her soul will go on, and we will meet again in glory. How marvelous, Lord! How wondrously marvelous!

Father, I thank you for the love You put into creating each of us. We are each beautiful in our own way, by Your design. Help us to see Your creation in each other at all stages of life, and to appreciate each other in Your Name.

© 2009 Mary Beth Magee

No comments: