Jan 24, 2012

My Mom is So Funny, page 10

I dreamed I washed my mother's feet.

She passed away about six weeks ago and in the dream she seemed so glad to have me do this for her - the feet were very dirty as if she'd been walking, walking a lot! Barefoot!

Enjoying herself, I could tell, she had the silliest grin on her face. She didn't dialogue with me, she just let me scrub the dirt off.

I realize, in a dream, I am everything in my dream. I am my mother, I am the dirt, I am the feet, and the grin and the water; I am also the person giving.

I have not found much information yet about the dream meaning of washing your mother's feet. I know the rite of foot washing has religious symbolism: a humble attitude by one participant to another; taking away grief, sadness, and sorrow; an act of giving comfort and love, as well as being able to accept the ministrations of another.

To complicate it, my mother was a quadriplegic who was not able to use her limbs or feel her extremities for several decades; washing her feet doesn't have the same effect on her that I would feel, for instance, if someone were to wash my feet - someone had to do everything for her every single day.

She always had to be in the position of accepting an act of comfort she could never return.

I have no idea what that must feel like; I cannot even begin to speculate.

I washed her everyday for two years, I know exactly what that felt like, but this was different - dirty feet felt like transition - of course, I assumed it was her transition because, of course, she is the one who has passed.

The transition affects me, as well, because I no longer have this major job of managing her body but all her other needs: the nurses, aides, social workers, volunteers, household, nutrition, and on and on and on, as well as maintaining my job. I had put most of the rest of my life on hold, choosing to help my parents through their end-of-life needs.

She wasn't a burden to me, surprisingly; for years and years I wouldn't do any of her care because I was afraid of getting sucked into a vortex of unending unmeetable needs. I took her on because I promised dad, and truthfully, a fully-needy quadriplegic is far too much trouble for a nursing home to manage. We tried, it didn't work.

So what about these dirty feet? Mud-encrusted happy feet on a woman who wasn't a walker the last time I saw her. What does that mean?

If I am my mother, then I've been out doing something I haven't done for ages, and I'm doing something quite fun, getting out there barefoot!! I do love dirt. It's the middle of winter - nearly five feet of snow in my yard - I couldn't see dirt today if I wanted to, much less run through the yard barefoot. Even better, trek through sand at the beach! Or get my feet washed and tickled, massaged and lotioned and kissed.

Actually, the dream may have been prescient.

A few nights ago, I did something I had never done, and I actually did get my feet rubbed and kissed and tickled. It was fun. I was open to it. I took what someone wanted to give me without thinking for a minute that I had to give something back.

I think I must have had the silliest grin on my face.


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