A couple of weeks ago in the gym locker room I averted my eyes as a young woman aided her grandmother, a stroke victim. She removed the older woman’s clothes and underwear, and helped her put on a swimsuit. The grandmother could not speak; her face remained still. She had to be lifted, naked, from a wheelchair, to a chair, and then back during the entire change of clothes. After settling the elderly woman, the granddaughter disappeared momentarily, and I dared to look at the grandmother’s frozen face.
For a moment I imagined myself sitting in that chair, in that locker room, naked and unable to hide. I shuddered and hurried to change out of my own suit and leave.
Growing up an uncoordinated asthmatic, I was self-conscious about my body. I feared looking foolish in front of my peers, so I avoided trying new activities and instead, mastered the things I was already good at rather than risk exposing my weakness.
I’d shrug my shoulders if I received a compliment. “It’s just easy for me,” I’d say. [Read more…]