We were asked to write about feet in our writing class. I wondered what my feet and life would look like at the end of my journey. This is a (super)short story.
“Oma, what’s wrong with your feet?” She smiles at me as she skips toward my wheelchair. I feel her four-year-old eyes looking at my eighty-four-year-old feet. I can sense her dad trying to hush her as he pushes me toward the shade in the park. “Sorry, mom,” he says.
“Well, I used to skip like you. But now my feet are broken.” We stop as she stands in front of me. She is now staring while she bends over. She studies my toes as her small fingers trace across my gnarly bones.
“Mom painted my toes last night. Wanna see?” She plops in the grass and pulls off her sandals. Her tiny toes wiggle. Red polish glistens in the summer sun.
“I used to paint my nails.” I say, as my mind drifts and I open the door for the memories.
How I had despised my feet all my life. But then when my precious son announced he had proposed and the wedding day came closer, I decided to get a pedicure – as the mother of the groom I wanted to look good for him. At fifty-five it was my first time. I sat in the salon, feet soaking in the small tub, admiring the women who knew what they were doing. I had felt so uncomfortable with the stranger at my feet, trying to make them look beautiful for that special day. I remember thinking about Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. I felt the men’s awkwardness of their master becoming a servant.
But then, after I walked out, I looked differently at my toes. I liked them shining through my open sandals. Two times a year I went back after that day.
How my feet had carried me all my life. I had walked into churches for weddings and funerals. I had exposed them to the hot sand of beaches and the smooth stones in mountain creeks. I had stuffed them into hiking boots and slid them into open sandals. How many times had I set them on the floor, morning after morning – often not knowing where they would carry me?
“Oma, will they work again?” She asks, bringing me back. Her eyes now intently on mine. My heart sinks a little.
“No honey. I am now carried wherever I go.”
“Good. I will carry you when you need help!” The answer has satisfied her and she skips away.
I think of being carried by the One who always carries us. As I look at my feet and hear the birds in the tree and the nearby laughter of children, I quietly pray for my children and grandchildren. I pray they know the One who carries them. I realize how I really never walked on my own two feet but have been carried by the One who will carry me all the way home. I know that only there I will truly be walking on my own.
(Essay by Heidi Viars, June, 2021 – Picture by my sweet sister, Moni … thank you for always walking with me!)