Over at At The Crossroads, Luisa posted a wonderful post about accepting our bodies as they are, and that once we do that we will take care of them better, because we love them.

I responded that perhaps we should start talking about which body part we are most grateful for, because gratitude begets love. I've been thinking about it ever since.

So, right after I eat breakfast, I shall start talking about toes, and why I am grateful for them.

* * * *

~wipes milk off the corner of her mouth~

Okay. I'm back.

If my dad had lived in the world of The Lord of the Rings, my dad probably would have been Theoden, and not just because he loves horses.

My dad is an oak. Strong. Firm. Upright.

For my dad there is black and white. It's so easy for him to make decisions because there seem to be no shades of gray. Whatever it is that he aligns himself with he believes in fully. It sometimes makes it hard for those of us who see thousands of different shades of gray. It's also a beautiful thing.

My dad has always been physically strong. He milked cows, hauled hay, pulled weeds and tamed horses. He helped my grandpa build a cabin--one that was in the family for many years. You never wanted to be spanked by him because it would hurt.

Until about 4 or 5 years ago.

I was home visiting one summer and I was helping my dad haul hay. (By that I mean I was standing around talking to him while he did the work. I couldn't possibly lift a hay bale enough to get it into the loft of the barn. Faramir? Tosses them up like they are basketballs. Me? Not so much.) We were talking. I think I had come out to give him a message.

I should interrupt myself here and tell the uninitiated that hauling hay usually involves a truck loaded up about 20 feet with hay bales that are tossed up into the loft and arranged there. At that time, my dad was on top of this pile.

My dad fell off the truck and hit the riding lawn mower with the side of his face on the way down.

It was one of those slow motion moments. A time-stands-still-because-you-aren't-really-sure-if-you-saw-what-you -just-saw moments.

I called his name.

All he did was moan.

I couldn't even move. I knew that I needed to find out if I needed to call 911 but I couldn't get myself around the truck to find out if he was okay.

I called his name again.

I'm not really sure how many times I called his name when he finally answered and came around the truck.

He didn't look too bad. Just a couple of scratches on the side of his face and a rather nasty welt.

He got himself up, got himself patched up, and finished hauling the hay. (It took a while though.)

No harm, no foul, right?

Not really.

About two weeks later my dad couldn't move in what was one of the worst cases of whiplash I have ever seen.

(I should probably mention here that my dad is 75-ish years old. I never can remember exactly. He was about 70 when this happened.)

It took him three months to be able to move his neck--and that's with seeing a capable chiropractor two and three times a week. (I have great faith in the chiropractor. He's my older brother and he makes my life easier on a very regular basis.)

One of the end results of this is that my dad lost a good deal of his strength. Not being able to even mow the lawn about did him in. Up until that point, my dad couldn't sit still enough to watch a movie. Now he was forced to sit.

It drove him crazy. And he has never fully recovered. Before the accident, he was a 50 year old ox. After the accident he was suddenly a 70 year old man. He still hauls hay, but he always calls to see if Faramir or my brother can help. He still mows the lawn, but most of it is done with a riding lawn mower these days. He still pulls weeds and rides the horses, but the frequency has gone down.

I can't tell you how much this hurts me to watch.

Another unforeseen consequence of his fall is that he triggered an acute arthritis attack. It started in his toes. He gradually lost control over them. At one point, they were numb--I'm not sure how things stand now.

There's nothing like watching someone you love be unable to use something as small as toes to make you grateful for them.

Your toes make it possible for you to properly walk. Your toes help you maintain your balance and equilibrium. Your toes help you pick up pencils off the floor if you are feeling lazy.

They are awesome, those toes.

I am so grateful that I have toes.

And I am grateful for my oak of a dad.
Labels: edit post
11 Responses
  1. Kimberly Says:

    Wow. Such a powerful and poignant post. Thank you so much for sharing that.

  2. Melanie J Says:

    I watched my grandfather go through this after wrenching his knee in a gopher hole. At some point, age makes it hard for the body to mend back to wholeness. It's hard to watch the mighty fall.

  3. Oh, your poor dad. What a shock.

    Toes are indeed awesome.

    (And thanks!)

  4. L.T. Elliot Says:

    My heart breaks for your dad--and for you. My mom has M.S. and she's the kind of person who refuses to show weakness (or frailty of any sort) even if it kills her. Sadly, it is killing her. She's lucky to be able to walk and even that is difficult.
    That said, she's an oak in her own way too. I'm so glad to know your dad's an oak and you're his acorn.

  5. Natalie Says:

    All my life my dad loved yard work. Our yard was always beautiful. My parents recently moved into a new home and part of the reason for their moving was that my dad's health makes it hard for him to do yard work-in the new house they do it for you. Boo to parents getting older...and while I'm booing, boo to their children getting older too. But, yay for toes...hmmmm, what am I grateful for....you got me thinking :)

  6. Kazzy Says:

    Your dad sounds amazing. It is hard to see someone that we always imagine as superhuman get weaker. I am sorry he has had long-term issues.

    You are right about the power of loving our bodies. Women who sit around and complain about their bodies don't seem happy in any area of life, really. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. Emily Says:

    Love, LOVE, Love this post. Why is it we often times don't appreciate things until they're gone? Today I am going to seize the day, appreciate the little things. Like Toes. Great reminder. Thanks.

  8. charrette Says:

    Such a wonderful post!

    My FIL ( a world-renowned surgeon) has lost the feeling in his fingertips due to MS. It is heart-rending to see someone so skilled with his hands now struggle to pick up a coin or button his shirt. I have never been so grateful for my own thumb and fingertips, even at their clumsiest.

    p.s. Word verification letters are: TRUBL
    I'm choosing to see them as "True Blue" rather than "trouble". :)

  9. Laine Says:

    Hello Friend! Thanks for writing this post and sharing this story. Love you, elaine

  10. Your Dad sounds a lot like my Dad. Strong and also sees things a lot in black and white.

    I am so sorry he had this accident! It must be so hard to watch him and see how he has a hard time doing the things he used to love.

    Thanks for sharing you thoughts! And toes are a pretty good thing to have :) !!

  11. My dad is 83 and still doing lots of yardwork when it's warm enough. He would rather die than go through what your dad is going through. Life is so darn rough.