While we were visiting Mom over Thanksgiving my sister J (the one who, with the assisted living home staff, looks after her) was out of town visiting her son. Before she left I asked J if there were any chores she wanted me to do for Mom. She asked me to help Mom with her shower. Mom's had a few tumbles in the bathroom so J now hangs out and helps her on shower days, just to be safe.
Seeing my mother naked and vulnerable changed me in ways I still haven't fully integrated. Helping her step into her Depends, putting on her powder and lotion, helping her pick out clothes, seeing the way her body has changed since the last time I saw her nude 15 years ago or so -- I've relived the experience every day since. I feel a new softness toward her and also sadness. This woman who was once so harsh and angry -- who has caused me to feel such fear in my life -- is now frail and weak. And she trusts me to help her shower and dress. In her most vulnerable state, she let me help her. And I did help her. Not without strong feelings and some serious internal conflict, but I helped.
It's miraculous, really.