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“Where are your shoes?”

“Where’s your other shoe?”

“Put on your shoes.”

“I said, put on your shoes!”

“Why haven’t you put on your shoes?”

“Hurry up and put on your shoes or we’re going to be late!”

(Repeat the above as often as necessary)

Anyone with children is familiar with the above one-sided conversation with a four-year-old when hurrying to go somewhere.  There is even a physics theory for this occurrence called the shoe-time theorem.  It is: the speed a child finds and puts on his shoes is inversely proportional to the amount of time available.  Who knew raising children could involve so many hours looking under sofas and beds for shoes and coaxing their application.

Then you learn the shoe frustration is only just the beginning.  When children become teenagers, they want special shoes.  The shoes must be the most popular type and the most expensive.  When I was a teenager gym shoes were worn only in the, you know, gym.  But by the time my children were teenagers, thanks to basketball stars, they were worn all the time.  Even in snow and ice, they walked to school in their canvas status symbols.

I had leather shoes growing up.  I had to polish them occasionally to keep them shiny, and as I grew, they were replaced with new ones to accommodate my larger feet.   When I was about thirteen, I picked up a pair of shoes in the living room and put them on.  Then I noticed they weren’t mine; they were my father’s.  I was shocked that I wore the same size shoes as my dad.  Though I wore the same size as my father, I couldn’t fill them figuratively.

About fifty years later I was going through my father’s closet.  He had died, and I was selecting a suit for his burial.  I noticed a pair of black shoes, and I tried them on.  They fit me.  I was sad it was time for me to fill my father’s shoes.  My mother had dementia and Dad had been her caregiver.  The responsibility was now mine, and I learned those are big shoes to fill.

Now I help my mother with her shoes, and it’s about as frustrating as dealing with a four-year-old.  It’s not that she loses them.  She wears them all the time except in bed.  A podiatrist once told her to never let her feet touch the floor without shoes.  Of all the things she has forgotten why not that one?

Before getting out of bed in the morning, she puts on her shoes. Her morning routine begins with brushing her teeth and a sponge bath.  A year ago, it became too painful for the daily shower.   She sits in her wheelchair, wearing her shoes and cooperates.  When it’s time to get dressed I hand her clean underwear, so she takes off her shoes, then puts them back on.  After putting on her blouse, it’s time for her slacks, so she takes off her shoes and puts them back on.  I hand her a pair of socks, and she takes off her shoes and puts them back on.  Most mornings this routine doesn’t bother me, but the shoe-time theorem applies to dementia patients too.

When I need Mother to hurry so we can get to the doctor on time her “shoe time” becomes exaggerated.  On those mornings, it seems, it takes her longer to put on her shoes than on other mornings.  If the delay is not for her shoes, then it’s something else.  She might take longer to eat breakfast, or her bathroom trip is exceptionally long. Is there a physics theorem that explains the colon/ time ratio for dementia patients?  But, that’s a topic for another day.

The small but unending daily tasks sometimes cause the molehill to become a mountain.  It is when the repetitive functions of caregiving seem to annoy us we must ask God to help us maintain a proper attitude and then He is most present.

Philippians 4:13 NASB -I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

© Copyright 2018 Ronald Milburn