The Way to My Heart
by Jesse Loren
My mom always said the way to my heart was through my feet. I always thought she meant foot massage, and I do love a good massage. But I don’t think that’s all she meant. She used to say it to my young suitors, then to my “previous” husband. After the divorce, she said it just to me.
I used to call him my old husband, as opposed to my NEW husband, but the term “old” resonates with age too much and not enough with “prior.” I’ve tried calling him my husband’s predecessor, but that confounds some people, so I stopped altogether. I don’t say “my f-ing X;” it’s disrespectful.
My kids are almost grown now and my mom has been sick with dementia brought on by cervical stenosis. She forgets where she is, what she has paid, who she is talking to, when the Kiwanis meet, what day it is, medication, if she has eaten, what day it is, and what she just said; usually in that order. It seems to be the new circuit of her discontent.
She still happens to love to shop for shoes. Last weekend, when my new husbie and I took the 300-mile drive to visit her and take her to appointments, I found two new pairs of boots still in the bag. The first pair was fit for a twenty-year-old fashion model and I loved them! I wanted THOSE boots, but she said the store closed.
At one point, I decided to try them on. They were black, sleek, about 13 inches of leather on the calf with a 3-inch heel. They looked great on me, but were half a size off. I asked her if I could wear them. At first she said yes, then she asked me to take them off my G-d damn feet.
The other part about dementia and aging is the inability to curb feeling entitled to combine edicts with expletives. She can’t say, “Jesse, they look great on you, but I want to be the only one breaking them in. Can you take them off?” Instead she says, “Take my G-d damn fucking boots off!”
It is important to her to use “fucking” in its entirety.
For example, once my son made the mistake of bringing friends home while she was over. Being considerate, young John said something intense and used the word “frigging” instead of F-ing. When mom heard she asked little John to come over. “John, if you are going to use it, use the GOLD standard. Just say FUCK if you mean FUCK. Now say it!”
She has also described friends as tampons. “Viola is a tampon. She’s uptight and outta sight!” Most seventy-year-olds don’t talk that way.
Due to the creativity in the expletives and the constant use, I figure I am entitled to write out exactly what she said, except that I did change the names of people for their own good.
Which brings me back to shoes. I want some boots. It used to be that I could tell my mom I wanted a certain pair and she would have them sent to me. Any day could be my birthday. Moms have a way of making everyone feel special. I didn’t take advantage of it, but I certainly did play the “daughter card” every now and then.
I sent mom a link today to the exquisite Corral Distressed Black with Black Lizard western boots I want in a size 8 and I got no response. I then sent her an email with a picture of Red Abilene boots and also got no response. It was weird. No shared excitement. No foot bonding.
It seems that mom can’t always remember her password. She calls me when that happens and I tell her what to type. She logs in and off she goes. This time, the shoe game with mom – where I hint and she sends – is over. I think she lost interest in the game.
The way to my heart is still through my feet. But now that she is getting up there in age, I think I have to imagine what she would say if she felt up to it. I think she would say, “Buy the fucking shoes! Life’s too short not to!”