Shoes were a big deal in the poor cotton farming communities of the 1930’s,  A sign of prosperity and class.  To go barefoot meant your family couldn’t afford shoes. And so she never left the house without them, even when they were too small.

She loved squishing her toes in the Texas mud.

She reminisced about it often.  Whenever she spoke of the glorious feeling of squishing mud between her toes her eyes would light up with a youthful enthusiasm and joy.  The joy of total freedom.  Freedom from the tyranny of conformity found in 1930’s small town America.  Freedom from hypocrisy. A small rebellion if you will against the demands of a strict Southern Baptist community.

In later years, a nice foot rub would be as close to heaven as she knew.  I rubbed them for her often, especially at the end.

Something About Feet and Grounding

She was definitely grounded or at least it seemed to her. She held only memories that she chose and discarded all others, at least that is how it seemed to me.

I never saw my mother outside without her shoes.  She had taken her place as a dutiful officers wife and perfect hostess.  Always well dressed and proper. It would have been unseemly.

 If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. We moved often and our home was always beautiful and icy with the silence of not having anything nice to say.

Time goes by, all unpleasantness safely locked away, and by my 10th birthday the migraines had become so debilitating she was confined to bed for days at a time.

When I was 12, she resumed the career that she had put aside for me years before. Soon the migraines vanished and she found a sense of self and accomplishment in her new role. She rose to the highest pay grade possible for her designation and took her full retirement at 62.  And then she found herself trapped again.

Trapped with a husband whose best friend was Jim Beam.

Having spent her life as a military wife, organizing countless cocktail parties and moving every few years, she looked forward to returning home to Texas to her friends and family.

Her husband hated Texas.  He insisted on Florida.  She took a stand, she had always followed where he wanted/needed to go.  He had promised that she could chose in the end.  It was a stalemate.  2 years later she was dead.

The diagnosis was Melanoma, but it was a symptom, not the cause.

It started in her big toe.  The big toe that her inner child longed to squish in the mud.  She stubbed it and it never healed.

The big toe that was freedom from the expectations of society and the chains of propriety and obligation.  The big toe that she had denied for over 50 years that finally spoke.

Are your toes free?

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Roma Wright

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