Sometimes, when we’re elbow deep in a particular sandwich generation duty I do a little reality check and ask myself, “Does anyone else have to do this? Is it just us?” It’s usually followed by a, “Hey, how do you know when you’re losing your mind?” Or, “The preacher didn’t mention THIS in our wedding vows.”
There are many chores associated with taking care of my in-laws that are surprising but none as humbling as…gulp…the toenails. When folks get old, they often lose the flexibility needed to bend over and clip their toenails. I’d swear those nails grow faster, the older you get, too. You can ignore them all you want, but they don’t go away. It has to be done. It’s basic hygiene. Besides, Papa T.’s feet look like cloven hooves if you let them go longer than a few weeks. They definitely fall somewhere in between “ewww” and “Get the shotgun ma, it’s a bear!”
The first time Mama J. asked us to trim her toenails; we thought it was just a fluke. Dutifully, Hubby did it and forgot about it. Or maybe, he suppressed the memory of it because he couldn’t really handle it. You know, like a one night stand. Oh my God-what have I done-that was ugly-what was I thinking-I’ll never do that again. Well, a few nights later she asked if he would trim Papa T.’s toenails. Reluctantly, Hubby trudged next door, sacrificed his dignity and clipped his daddy’s hooves. “I’m never doing that again,” he declared when he returned. “That’s just too much.” Still, we thought it was a one time deal. Several weeks passed, and we were lulled into a false sense of security until the call came again. Hubby hung up the phone, looked at me and said, “It’s your turn. You do it this time.”
“Oh, no big boy. They’re your parents. I promised to love, honor and cherish, but I did not promise to clip my in-law’s stinky feet,” I said. I loaded up the guilt gun and fired off the reminder that rarely do I turn down his requests, and by the way, I had cooked a roast AND a chocolate cake that day. He gave in and walked next door with his head hung low….like a prisoner walking the Green Mile.
Eventually, it became a game of cat and mouse, Mama J. hinting that it was about that time again, and us refusing to pick up the phone when it rang, lest it was the dreaded foot call. Then, as often happens, the good Lord dropped a blessing on us out of the blue and answered our desperate prayers. Our know-it-all neighbor, Marie, announced that Medicare pays for regular toenail trimmings and foot checks for senior citizens. It was like manna from heaven. We made Mama J. and Papa T. concurrent appointments at the foot doctor and let HIM cut those suckers. To say there was no embarrassment about the visit would be a lie because the whole waiting room could hear the big sander the doctor had to fire up to tackle the senior Hula feet, but ten minutes and few giggles later, Mama J. and Papa T. emerged, pleased as punch with the service and the fact that the drive home would take them right by Cracker Barrel. I swear we could hear violins and angels singing when they emerged. Everybody was happy with the new arrangements.
Now, if only we can find an equally pleasing solution for that constipation problem they brought up this past week. Seriously, is it just us?
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