When my grandmother lost the ability to live independently, she said to my mom, “I hope I can be decent about it.” She had heard this same sentiment from her mother when she moved to a nursing home.
My mother thinks about when she will have to give up her home. She turns 93 this year. It took her two tries to pass her driver’s test last year, and she has another test this week. We tease each other with the family phrase.
Last year my mom fell and fractured her hip socket. The fractures were minor, and she didn’t have to have surgery. But the therapy and rehab have pointed out that her one leg is not working all the way. My message to her in the hospital. “I just hope you can be decent about it.”
“I hope I can be decent about it.”
My mom’s rehab was drawing to a close. Everyone in my brother’s family worked, so either I flew out there to take care of my mom or we hired a nurse. I bought a one-way ticket and spent the day flying halfway across the nation. I packed a pillow, a cooling blanket, shorts, and short-sleeved shirts. My mom enjoys a temperature average of 76 to 78. And I like 68.
I’ll miss my family and my reclining couch (and my cats), but I hope I can be decent about it.
I’m probably writing this differently than I would have a year ago. My mom was going strong: writing 6-10 emails a day, writing short devotions a few days a week, and a blog once a week. She exercised for 10 minutes a day and pedaled under her desk for 30 minutes.
Then all her plans crashed as she lay on the driveway looking up at the beautiful blue sky. And I arrived with a suitcase and my laptop. I wasn’t sure if I was ready, but I was there.
We make plans, and then they change.
My tasks were to create my mom’s three meals a day the way she wanted them. She didn’t like the hospital food, and her blood sugar was pretty high. I need to make sure she:
- didn’t fall.
- had a shower twice a week.
- had clean clothes and a clean bed.
- had a commode close to her at all times.
Oh, and keep the commode clean.
As my mom improved, I became more of an occupational therapist. I tried to make sure she could do everything she needed to do without me. So, getting gadgets, rugs, and rearranging things took up my time. I think I went over everything with my brother and his wife a few times and with my mom, no trips to the garage, no trash can moving, a handle by the shower, and the front door. I felt so focused that it took a week to stop constantly thinking of things.
What is decent?
How does our family define decent? Being able to accept help with grace and patience.
I come from a long line of make do and get it done women. My grandmother could do woodworking, use a power drill and screwdriver, and bake bread from whole wheat grains she ground herself. She made her yogurt and grew her vegetables in the backyard. She took flowers to sick church members by cutting stems in her flower garden.
My mother taught herself to program basic on an Apple computer and created a game for students to learn prepositions. During my high school years, she led the choir at church and played for services in later years.
We love to be independent women who help others. Receiving help is just horrendous to our way of thinking. Not being in charge of our destiny grates on every nerve. To sit back and wait on someone else is not in our personalities.
The world defines decency as moral integrity, kindness, and goodwill. The opposite of decency is lacking honor or being shameful.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice, but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight! Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what.
Lord, help me honor You with my life, especially when others offer me help. Let me show Your love to others, so they sing praises to Your name. I want to be kind and gentle. Give me Your Spirit so that I can maintain integrity in a fallen world. Help me not be religious, working hard to look like a Christian instead of sharing Your love.
The best part of this experience with my mom was the gift of time with her. Sure, she was cranky and in pain, but I could hug her. We giggled together when I burned the vegetables. She stared at her smoothie when I didn’t do it right. And as she improved, we talked about ideas and writing, Bible verses, and family history.