Friday, August 16, 2013

I Drop the Knee, Lift the Foot, & Fit the Shoe

Though this story doesn't involve washing feet, 
my mind wandered to Christ and his habit of foot washing. 
How he, too, stooped, fussed, cared.

"When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. 
“Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, 
you also should wash one another’s feet. 
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 
Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, 
nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 
Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."
-Matthew 13:12-17

May we bend to wash the feet of those around us whether they understand or not.
Even the disciples questioned Christ's act of foot-cleaning, 
yet it didn't stop him. 

I dipped my head and dropped to my knees when his flip flops were no longer suiting him. He needed others. So, we change. He holds my shoulders like a child, steadies himself as I guide his once agile feet clumsily into his beloved loafers. I rise, look him in the eyes, and seek his approval just as I have the last 24 years.

How, despite all the loss and change, can I remain so much the same? Though many of his defining traits have slowly, yet completely, dissolved into a thing of the past, my daughter's heart remains intact. A visit is good when I feel I've done right by him despite his inability to express approval -or, conversely, disappointment.

As we walk laps through his building and its attached grounds, I fuss over him as a daughter hosting Thanksgiving might do. Not that I'll know what that's like. Dementia made life what I never expected: a string of opportunities missed, replaced by a rash of difficult, defining relational moments. And, while I'm determined to see the glass as half full, there are days I can't help but hurt for the stolen memories.

He will never be Pops to my kids. He won't sit at my table impressed with the Christmas dinner I've prepared. He's not going to answer my parenting questions in that dry, love-filled way he always answered everything. His advice won't fill my ears whether it's asked for or not. He can't instill good table manners, undeniable work ethics, or a love for puns in my children (I know, I can in his honor, but please stick with me here).

While he lives within my soul, some days my heart longs for him to be present, aware, and sarcastic because that's what he always was to me. He wasn't perfect, far from it. But he was handsome, in spirit and in person. He wasn't blemish-free, far from it. But he was marked by integrity, in work and in life. He wasn't sensitive, far from it. But he was devoted, in love and in faith.

So, I stoop humbly before him changing his shoes. Ensuring his feet are snug in his favorite loafers. Steadying him as I request his other, uncovered foot. He obliges. As I stand, I make eye contact seeking the approval behind his baby blues that are mirrored in my own face. Those eyes remain blank, unaware, yet fixed on mine, as if there's a slight recognition of his genes.

And, as the little girl desperately seeking dad's approval, I resolve I've got it. 

1 comment:

  1. Tears. Streaming. Down. My. Face!! I remember how hard it was the last week my dad was on hospice care, when he would go in and out of delirium. His liver was failing from the cancer and all the toxins were being released in his body making him go into states of mass confusion. Knowing that soon he would be with Jesus and that he would no longer be present was the hardest week of my life. I know I don't know exactly how you feel caring for a daddy with dementia, but the raw emotions of him not being Pops to your kids or giving parenting advice to you, I can definitely relate to! I seriously still crying, thinking of you kneeling, caring and loving on your daddy. Lifting up prayers to you, new friend!

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