Let’s Change the Modesty Conversation

“I was eleven years old when my maternal grandmother came to live with us after the death of my grandpa. By the time I had reached early adulthood, she had became completely bed-ridden, for all practical purposes paralyzed from the waist down. Unwilling to put her in a care facility, my parents decided to care for her at home. By the time I was 20 I had learned such skills as how to change diapers for an adult who can’t move their limbs or shift their weight, massage unused feet to keep circulation running; even how to administer an enema. As for my grandma, she quietly watched her dignity slip away, as one by one the tasks that we humans consider private were added to the growing list of things that she was no longer physically able to do. Dementia set in and embarrassment eventually faded with the rest of her awareness, but my mom always made a point, no matter how busy she was, to wrestle Grandma into a pair of her pastel-colored velour pants and a matching top every morning. She always made sure to discreetly close the door whenever we were doing care-taking that involved nudity, even though there wasn’t anyone in the house who hadn’t seen my grandma’s body — naked, frail and idle — many, many times in the process of caring for her.”

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