My Bert puts on his shoes using a shoehorn. It has always been thus.
The only time a shoehorn gets near my feet is when I am being fitted by a sales assistant. My thumbs work for me. Always have.
My Bert is so dependent on a shoehorn that if there is none around he will fashion one from a magazine, folded paper, the handle of a spoon, a credit card, or my thumbs. He is inventive and adept whether sitting or standing.
Shoehorns now for me have become analogous with my Bert’s aging and Alzheimer disease. When his knee became arthritic he had to abandon the short stubby shoehorn and get one longer. After his knee replacement the shoehorn became even longer so he could put on his shoes from a standing position.
Among the travel essentials was the shoehorn. We have forgotten them in places like the River Jordan and the Dead Sea and other places where we had to take off our shoes on our sightseeing explorations. I still remember scouring a market in The Gambia looking for a shoehorn!
I have helped my Bert with his shoes and in disgust have discarded the shoehorn and resorted to my thumbs. They work.
We are in the shoe store. I have three pairs for my Bert to fit. Every shoehorn is long. My Bert is sitting on a padded bench and trying to get a shoe on. The shoehorn only gets in the way. An assistant comes by and suggests he stands up to use it. I become the supporting post. This is not working. The assistant tries to help. Bert hangs on to me and he thinks we are dancing. He has completely forgotten the reason for us being upright. He giggles and tells me there is a woman fiddling with his foot.
The bad shoulder begins to hurt. My Bert wants to dance. The assistant is sweating and I am sure the mumble I hear is not fit to print. It is a Herculean task but finally one foot is in. It is declared to be ‘good’. I choose the opposite foot from another box and with equal effort gets it on. My Bert walks around a few times and declares that they both fit and are ‘good’.
I buy both pairs. I am never doing this again. It is hazardous to my health!
“Paula, do you have a short shoehorn? This one is too long to use to help Bert with his shoes.” The question comes from our wonderful helper who was on her knees, valiantly struggling to use the shoehorn. The shaft came up to my Bert’s knee and she was working awkwardly with the curved portion at his heel.
Laughter burst out of me as I thought my Bert is like the shoehorns. I decide I better give an explanation for the mirth before she decides to call in to her office to say she has two clients on her hands and to please send in the emergency squad.
“Your question has reminded me of that old phrase ‘Once a man, twice a child.’ I am thinking how Bert is living his second childhood in conjunction with his shoehorns. First it was the tiny shoehorn which with age gradually grew longer and longer. Alzheimer disease has set him back to the tiny shoehorn which he can no longer use by himself.”
The laugh was bittersweet.
Helping my Bert with his shoes is agonizingly slow. He has to be in a standing position. I direct him on each step of the process while he holds on to the wall. Sure, I could still use my thumbs. It is the getting down to the floor which has become the problem. Actually, I could get down but how would I get back up? Calling 9-1-1 is not an option. I smile to myself again. I am thinking about having a crane on call. Nah!
I can’t help but wonder how we will cope when he can no longer stand by himself.
The Meander: My Bert and a shoehorn. It is not such an odd juxtaposition. He has been known to put on his slippers with a shoehorn. Then again, I am the one who sees the sublime in the ridiculous. Only problem is that in this case what is sublime? What is ridiculous? I can only laugh. Laugh with me so I do not cry.