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.

6 thoughts on “Shoehorns”

  1. I do own a few short handle shoehorns, and we use them often too. Handy little gadgets. I have had difficulty though, using them on my grandkids, so I feel your pain Paula. They are definitely easier managed, when used by the person wearing the shoes. One day at a time my dear. You deserve an award.

    1. As the decline sets in the little things get in the way. You should see the number of halos floating around my Lifeliners’ heads. It has been a difficult week. Shoehorns are just the symbols. I will want an award next time we meet so you better have one with you. Love you.

  2. WOW!!!! You have the patience of Jobe. I could not go through that dance on a daily basis. I’d be pulling my hair out in a corner somewhere. Frustration would overtake me I have no doubt. I dont know how you do it. Perhaps its the dynamics of your situation compared to mine. Caring for a spouse compared to caring for a parent. You truly have an inner strength that I just dont have. I admire that in you. You certainly would be an inspiration to many caregivers out there.

    1. Funny, but I think I am one impatient person. I suppose Alzheimer disease has brought out my hidden talent to be patient as before this that would not be a descriptor for me. I am sure you are patient in your own way and let’s just say that I am so grateful that I have help so I do not have to do this every day. There are times, Stephanie, when you do not wonder how you do it, you just do it.

  3. I can only imagine all those discarded shoe horns left around the world! I don’t think I’ve ever used one, isn’t it funny the way we have these habits that become such a part of us.

    1. Yes, they are in every corner of the world. You would think that living with a shoehorn user for over 50 years I would become one too, but I just could not get the hang of it. My thumbs still work when needed.

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