During my father’s illness, he could not bathe himself.
My mum had to help him. He was heavy and my mum needed my help to get him out of the bathroom but my dad would not allow me to see him without clothes and in that weak vulnerable naked state.
I did not think I would ever have to see my father in that state in my lifetime. I am sure he didn’t either.
Today, I spoke to another friend whose mum’s legs cannot take walking for too long. He predicts she will need someone full time to assist her, too.
He knows it will not be him.
That is not how the social roles play out. A son seeing his mother naked seems so wrong. Yet in our vulnerable states, we are just there asking for help.
Sometimes we do not allow the person who most loves us near because of a social rule in our head. The helper, too, stops himself from helping. We draw an imaginary line in the sand and stay on that side.
Last year, my mother was home for a month after her hospital stay of three months which left her very weak. She is walking happily now. But when she was with me, at home last year, I bathed her and cleaned her bottom and threw away shit and moped up shit.
My mum was naked, vulnerable and weak physically—but in her heart and spirit she was (and is) strong. She allowed herself to be helped and learnt to rebuild her body slowly despite her frustration and—I must admit—my impatience.
When I had to go out of the house, my brother offered to take over.
There was a major pause.
A lot of hesitation.
Finally, not in frustration but in acceptance of the circle of life, my mother gracefully accepted his care. She did not want to initially—socially, it seemed wrong. But to show her care for me, to let me rest and have my life too, she ignored her pride and social rules of what was “appropriate.”
My brother chose love.
They both became naked—not physically but emotionally.
Stripped to the core all we are human babies, not human beings—human spirit, not human bodies.
From the beginning at birth—Naked.
To the end, death—Naked.
Not vulnerable but innocent.
Not weak—instead, emotionally and spiritually strong and connected.
Everyday, we have the opportunity to get naked and be connected.
When were you last naked?
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Editor: Emily Bartran