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Dignity and Simplicity (from Fr. Mark)

Posted by The Rev. Mark McKone-Sweet on

Journal entry from a son sitting at his mother’s bedside …

It’s good to get all “gussied up”! – Dignity

As I walked in this morning to see mom, my mind was racing again. My family was flying in, one brother has gone home to be with his newborn, friends are reaching out to coordinate meals and playdates for the kids and we did not know yet which Hospice house mom would go to. Being who I am, I was also thinking about the celebration of life planning meeting I had with mom’s rector yesterday and wondering how we might make that special, especially to those who might not be Christians or even church-going folks.

As I walked into her room, I was waved in – although it looked a time her son to close his eyes. And then the nurse, your mother is having a shower! As I gave her kiss, I noticed she had a clean top on, her skin was smooth, and she had a hair net on. I said I didn’t know you could give someone a shower in a bed. Mom spoke up – softly, “Mark, I wanted you to see how they do this”. I replied “Yes, mother” with a smile on my face. As they completed the process with her hair, I began to comb it. Mom took the comb and slowly did some herself.

She then asked, when do the kids arrive? And when are we moving?

It occurred to me, she was getting all gussied up for the kids and before she traveled from the hospital to the Hospice house. I said to mom – “look at you getting all gussied up!” She smiled the biggest smile in reply.

Dignity. My mother knew all about dignity. She knew about having no money - not having enough money to go on vacation, for fancy clothes or even a nice car. She knew about not being of the economic status one might assume a family in Concord was.

Dignity. Mom raised us to be proud of who we are. Not to try to “be like everyone else” but find pride and strength in who we were as people – not by our materials goods. I realize mom knew what it meant to walk through the eye of the needle. As I explained to the intact director for hospice when asked if mom had any fancy perfumes or she can hire a hair stylist or anything she wants. I said, “no, mom is one of the most simple, humble people I know.” None of that for mom.

Just be yourself. Be loved for who you are. Love others for whom they are. Always have a clean shirt, pants, dress or blouse to wear. When mom traveled, she fit a one-week trip of clothes and jackets into a small hip bag. Mom kept it all simple. In a world going faster and faster. Mom slowed it down.

The hospice intact person, before meeting mom, offered, it’s all about comfort and dignity from the hour onward. The doctor said the same. And then nurse and nurse aid came and prayed with mom.

Getting gussied up for mom was about as simple as clean hair and brushed teeth. Sometimes, tis a gift to be simple – in this complex world. As I sit by her bedside, we began to sing:

Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free
Tis a gift to come down where I ought to be
And when I am in the place just right
I will be in the valley of love and delight
When true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend I will not be ashamed
To turn, to turn will be my delight
'Til by turning, turning, I come 'round right.

Thank you, mom, for teaching, again today, to keep it simple. To receive the joy of humility before the Lord.

How is God calling you to receive the gift of simplicity?

How is God using you to bring dignity to another human being today?

It’s good to get gussied up – just keep it simple.