, , ,

“Sharp shoes,” my physical therapist said.

“Would you like to hear the story behind them?”

“Sure,” she said as she cradled and swung my lower leg in large circles, making my new hip happy.

“I shopped my closet for the best shoes to wear for this session. The best ones for support and balance seemed to be these. I’ve not worn them before. They are my sister Esther’s. When she died, her daughter took me into her closet and said I could take whatever I wanted. I chose these shoes and a pink angora hat she wore during chemo.”

I told my therapist that my sister had died five years ago after successful radiation and chemo for esophageal cancer, followed by successful surgery. But then she died afterwards…unexpectedly from complications.

I went on: “She’d promised me that once she recuperated, she would come to visit me in our new home here in Sioux Falls. Her daughter said that Esther had bought these shoes to go to the hospital. So then I knew that she’d have worn these shoes to visit me a few weeks later.

“I’ve had them and the hat on a shelf in my closet ever since. I see them every time I go in there. This morning, I checked the size and sure enough they fit me.”

“So you took your sister along with you today?”

“Yes! For inspiration! When I think of what she went through to beat her cancer, my hip stuff does not compare. Now,” my eyes moistened, “I can hear her saying, ‘Keep up the PT, Lois. We’re got places to go and things to do. No sloughing off!’”

Today, I live with fond memories of our many visits over the years. We never lived in the same city but always visited at least yearly. In later life, she was my companion every two years to the Calvin Faith & Writing Festival at Calvin University. She would tell me, “You’re the writer, Lois. I’m the reader.” She’d make a point of reading as many authors as possible beforehand and cue me in. We’d go to different sessions and, in the evening, share our notes back at the hotel.

We didn’t always agree, but we still got along and always managed to have fun. One time I cooked up that we should visit our sister Rose in Seattle when our sister Kay would also be in town. I convinced Esther that she and I should dress up wearing clothes from thrift shops and put on some silly show when we arrived in Rose’s driveway. I dressed like a tennis player. Esther pretended to be a high society lady. Kay joined Rose in hysterics on the driveway as Esther and I played out (and exaggerated) our roles.

tennis player and lady with the hat, toeless heels, red socks, tights, miniskirt, frilly blouse, and purse

Esther used to say, “I can count on doing something silly (or outrageous) every time I am with Lois.”

That was true. And she was such a good sport. Wearing her Skechers now will inspire me for the next few weeks as I do outpatient PT. They will prod me onward until I can shag my walker and cane and be back to normal once again.