The Art of Caring for a Disabled Mother

_DSC2429.jpgphoto credit: (c) Kholood Eid, 2014

A few nights ago, I was asked by my father to come in the evening and shower my mother. My mom suffered a severe stroke in 2008, which left her disabled and in need of care. During the first couple of years, my dad and I would help her shower. But for the past several years, it has been my dad who showers her every night. Showering my mom takes roughly an hour in total, including preparations before and all the way up to having her settled in her bed. For everything my dad does, day in and day out, caring for my mom, cooking every day, washing her, taking care of every single need of hers, is something I have come to deeply respect. I can write pages upon pages about his dedication to her, but that is for another time. For now, I’d like to write about the experience of giving my mom a shower. As I mentioned, dad called me to come and give my mom a shower; his lower back has been hurting for several days, and the pain became unbearable.

It is painful to see my mother being so fragile, completely dependent on me and my dad for the simplest activities. A shower is one of the most intimate actions an individual performs, and to have someone else help you with it must be embarrassing, if not humiliating. For the whole time I helped my mom perform these simple, intimate tasks, I was single-mindedly focused on each movement. The movements of my own hands, arms, back; my feet, my whole body, and the corresponding movements of my mother’s arms, hands, fingers. Her bad arm. Her bad foot. The way the water splashed on her body. The way she washed herself with soap lathered on her good hand. The way she moved from left to right, from right to left.

It was a ritual of intimacy between an able body and a disabled body; between mother and daughter. It was humbling for me, both of us acutely aware of our reversed roles, the sadness the moments held. But we managed to pull it off without any tears. We even laughed when I got the water in the wrong direction, splashing my clothes. I could see the gratitude in her eyes; it was as if she understood I was doing it out of love, not duty. Because that’s the attitude I came with. Caring for a disabled parent for years can have its frustrating moments. I admit, sometimes it feels like a burden, tying me down to one place, especially as I am an only child. But that evening, I came consciously with love to her. I wanted her to have the most comfortable experience of me giving her a shower. And from the crinkle in her eyes when she smiled at me, wordlessly, I believe it was a pleasant experience for her. As pleasant as such an experience can get.

Back home, I sat down in my living room, and cried. They were not tears of sadness or happiness. They were simply tears of cleansing, tears of gratitude. And I am thankful for being part of such -beautifully intense moments. Moments that ease, even if only a little, the feeling my mom has to live with every moment of every day: the feeling of complete dependence on my dad and me for every action.

* This post wasn’t edited, it is published raw. It isn’t easy writing about such personal and emotional issues. Still, I hope I was able to convey something of what I felt and intended to write about.

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_DSC2454photo credit: (c) Kholood Eid, 2014


  1. Michele Seminara says:

    Oh wow, so moving, khulud. The bittersweet beauty expressed here gave me shivers. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you dear. It was a difficult piece to write.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Michele Seminara says:

        I’m sure it must have been. But I think that’s where the power comes from. From the heart x


  2. Suad says:

    I have experienced it all. Left Germany with a 2 year old girl, where I lived for 23 years, to take care of my mother in Haifa ! It was very sad because my father who looked after my mother died and she was left alone, therefore I left my life in Berlin and returned to this shitty state … it was a reversed role I admit but I would never hesitate to do it again. I could not have left my European mother alone in this strange country ! amongst Arabs and Jews who are not always kind .. I am glad that I took care of my mother until she passed away, I could not have continued living knowing that I left her here alone to die. I asked my daughter to help me die if I get hopelessly sick .. I don’t want to see myself in my mother’s situation … Continue helping your mother and supporting your father this …

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Claudia Flach says:

    What you wrote is wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you dear


  4. What a beautiful post. Both my mother and grandmother (through various circumstances) are growing increasingly frail and helpless … My grandmother now has a constant caretaker and my mother has nursing aids coming to her house multiple times each day.

    You’re inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

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