In 2001 I entered a decade of childbearing with flat feet. Ever since baby number five was born nearly three years ago, my feet have given me trouble. Fallen arches led to plantar fasciitis and the protrusion of bunions. I began to experience pain and inflammation a great deal of the time.
Also, since my last little one was born, I've been physically weak overall. I've tried and tried to snap back but progress has been slow.
Out of necessity, I began to forgo my long nature walks to conserve my feet for my domestic duties.
Yet still, every night I'd drop into bed sore and exhausted.
Last spring at the silent retreat I attended, my feet were too sore to walk down the stone staircase to the river.
After the podiatrist took a look at my x-rays she entered the room to greet me and said, "Oh my! I expected a much older woman to go with these feet!"
About two weeks ago I had a bunion removal and arch lift on my left foot. I'm hoping to have the other foot done after Christmas. We'll see how things go. In the mean time I can't put any weight on my left foot for five more weeks.
Between the feet problems and the fact that my hair is graying at an alarming rate, it has occurred to me that middle age is swiftly approaching.
Where did my twenties go?
Where did my thirties go?
Yet, as Madeline L' Engle once wrote, "I am still every age I have been."
As a matter of fact, the way I've felt lately, as I'm recovering from surgery, is about age thirteen! There have been mood swings -- from tears to laughter. I'm capable one minute, then as needy as a child the next; pining for independence, yet unable to drive a car.
So one afternoon last week -- while recovering at my aunt's beautiful home -- I propped up my foot on one of her dining room chairs and did a reading as the voice of one of my favorite thirteen year old adventurers: Huckleberry Finn.
If you've never read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, I hope this reading will inspire you to pick it up. It's one of my favorite classics!
The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn't stand it no longer I lit out. I got into my old rags and my sugar-hogshead again, and was free and satisfied. But Tom Sawyer he hunted me up and said he was going to start a band of robbers, and I might join if I would go back to the widow and be respectable. So I went back.
The widow she cried over me, and called me a poor lost lamb, and she called me a lot of other names, too, but she never meant no harm by it. She put me in them new clothes again, and I couldn't do nothing but sweat and sweat, and feel all cramped up. Well, then, the old thing commenced again. The widow rung a bell for supper, and you had to come to time. When you got to the table you couldn't go right to eating, but you had to wait for the widow to tuck down her head and grumble a little over the victuals, though there warn't really anything the matter with them,—that is, nothing only everything was cooked by itself. In a barrel of odds and ends it is different; things get mixed up, and the juice kind of swaps around, and the things go better.
After supper she got out her book and learned me about Moses and the Bulrushers, and I was in a sweat to find out all about him; but by and by she let it out that Moses had been dead a considerable long time; so then I didn't care no more about him, because I don't take no stock in dead people.
Pretty soon I wanted to smoke, and asked the widow to let me. But she wouldn't. She said it was a mean practice and wasn't clean, and I must try to not do it any more. That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don't know nothing about it. Here she was a-bothering about Moses, which was no kin to her, and no use to anybody, being gone, you see, yet finding a power of fault with me for doing a thing that had some good in it. And she took snuff, too; of course that was all right, because she done it herself.
Her sister, Miss Watson, a tolerable slim old maid, with goggles on, had just come to live with her, and took a set at me now with a spelling-book. She worked me middling hard for about an hour, and then the widow made her ease up. I couldn't stood it much longer. Then for an hour it was deadly dull, and I was fidgety. Miss Watson would say, "Don't put your feet up there, Huckleberry;" and "Don't scrunch up like that, Huckleberry—set up straight;" and pretty soon she would say, "Don't gap and stretch like that, Huckleberry—why don't you try to behave?" Then she told me all about the bad place, and I said I wished I was there. She got mad then, but I didn't mean no harm.
All I wanted was to go somewheres; all I wanted was a change, I warn't particular. She said it was wicked to say what I said; said she wouldn't say it for the whole world; she was going to live so as to go to the good place. Well, I couldn't see no advantage in going where she was going, so I made up my mind I wouldn't try for it. But I never said so, because it would only make trouble, and wouldn't do no good.
Now she had got a start, and she went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a body would have to do there was to go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn't think much of it. But I never said so. I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and she said not by a considerable sight. I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together.