The Holy Thing About Helping Her With Her Socks


I get down on my knees
in front of her and gently slide
one sock on, then the other
past her toes
around her heels
flipping the elastic band so
everything is right. I
think she might be uncomfortable
letting me do this. Her
skin is tight, her leg
swollen from surgery. I go into her
room and find her white shoes
loosen the laces
and push them on
much like I do for my young son,
wedging in her heel,
tying the laces
and doubling the knot.

I guide one arm into her coat, then
the other. I go through her box of scarves
and she tells me which one
she’s looking for.
No, not that one, not
that one, yes, that’s
it, that’s the one.

There now.
All set.

There’s something holy about this
dance. I have never held her gently
behind the elbow while she rises
from her rocker
or lifted under her
arm while she leans into
the passenger side of the van.

Perhaps we should get down on
our knees more often
for those who once cared for us,
for those who have seen the passing
of decades, the turn of centuries,
for those who have been to too many
funerals to count.
Perhaps we should wait longer,
walk slower, and
even though they might refuse,
offer to help them with their socks
their shoes
their coat.

There is something about getting down
on my knees in front of my grandmother
that reminds me someday soon
that will be me
in the armchair
while some grandchild not yet
born slips on my socks,
ties my shoes, helps me to the car.

Can we not be gentle now
with each other,
while these uncommon days
are running out?

4 Replies to “The Holy Thing About Helping Her With Her Socks”

  1. This is beautiful. My 96 year old mother is living with me and so many of your words express my very thoughts. Especially her shoes. We had to get a pair with Velcro so they are easier on her feet. But the tongue slips down towards her toes. I am always kneeling to pull them straight. Thank you for reminding me that these simple acts can be holy acts.

  2. So beautiful, my dad just passed will be 4 week this sunday and He was total care where I had the pleasure of dressing him each day and feeding him and listening to his stories of days gone by. He taight me so much about life. He was always a cup is half full man and always told us everything was going to be alright even up until an hour before he died. His wisdom and strength is what I miss so much this disabled man in a crippled body was stronger then anyone I ever met. He didn’t give up. He was just ready to try something new so went on to another adventure where he had a new body and could run once again. I am thankful not sad

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