m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-40631233-1', 'susanclaytongoldner.com'); ga('send', 'pageview');
 
Picture
Last week, a writer friend visited. In the course of our conversations, I showed her this VA-issued orthopedic shoe I'd had bronzed by the same artist who'd done Kenny Rogers favorite cowboy boots. I keep it on the shelf in my writing room, just above my computer. It inspires me. And the purple laces make me smile and remember his wonderful sense of humor. 

The shoe belonged to my father. He wore it, or one exactly like it, for fifty-three years. After he died, and I saw the way he'd laced them with those vibrant purple shoelaces, I knew that shoe was the one possession I wanted. But I didn't know why until I tried to articulate its meaning for my friend. 

You can barely see them in the photo, but there are two holes in the heel to accommodate the steel brace he wore from ankle to thigh. When a grenade exploded in my father's hand during his basic training at Fort Jackson Army base, he was 21 years old. It took off the fingers on his right hand and broke so many bones that he was in a body cast for months. The doctors wanted to amputate his right leg, believing he'd be better off without it.

For the remainder of his life, my dad had incurable osteomyelitis and a major bone in his leg was rotting. Still, he refused the amputation. When they finally removed the cast, his leg muscles had atrophied and halfway between his knee and ankle, an open wound drained through a hole in his leg. It smelled terrible, like something already dead. All hope that he'd ever stand on his own crumbling leg drained away from every one--every one except my father.  

No one believed his leg could be made strong enough to hold his weight of 145 pounds. But my father was not deterred. He suffered through two more surgeries and several skin grafts. Finally, at his insistence, they measured and fitted him with a metal and leather brace. Two steel rods clamped into the 3-inch heel of a shoe designed to compensate for his two inches of lost bone. Grueling physical therapy became part of his daily routine.

My father hated the word, cripple. He did his physical therapy and a year later, he limped out of Valley Forge hospital with crutches, his orthopedic shoes, and that steel brace to support him. The nurses, doctors, secretaries, ward clerks and the physical therapists lined the hallways as he inched through them like a football hero. Applause and whistles soared into the air around him. Some of the hospital personnel touched his back as he passed them, prodding him carefully forward. When he stumbled, my mother rushed forward, tried to push her way through to him, but his physical therapist held her back. He knew how much this walk meant to my father.  When he reached the end of the corridor, my dad raised his good hand into the air and spread his fingers in the victory sign.

A few years before he died, he developed an aortic aneurysm. Because of the osteomyelitis, it could not be repaired in the usual way using mesh without amputating his diseased leg. My father would not agree to the surgery. With the size of that bubble in his aorta, it was only a matter of time until it blew. The irony didn't escape me. Another grenade--threatening to take his leg. We finally found a surgeon at Johns Hopkins who would repair it using a donor aorta. Once again, my father, a widower for more than a decade, walked out of the hospital. 

His life long gift to me, his only daughter, was his tenacity. The way he never gave up on his dream to be whole. Tenacity is a wonderful gift for a writer. I can only hope that I will pursue my writing dreams with the same fervor with which he pursed his. Thanks to my writer friend, Martha R. for making me think about the reasons I wanted only my father's shoe. And thanks to my dad for the lessons of tenacity he taught me by his example. 




 


Comments

Carol Clough
09/15/2013 7:39pm

Excellent writing about your dad. Know that I am not eloquent with words as you are, but I love your blogs. This is wonderful. I know your folks were and would be (even now) especially now, proud of what you have accomplished with your writing career. You are tenacious about filling your dream and making it come true, as your dad was about walking and living his life the best that he could. Keep writing girlfriend. I love what I read.

Reply
08/27/2014 4:50am

Maybe they're not entirely stupid.

Reply
08/28/2014 6:57am

Are there really cultural and race differences as to how people express their emotions with their eyes? Just a thought.

08/28/2014 9:49am

I am a psychiatrist i.e. lots and lots of practice trying to understand subtle affective cues.

09/17/2014 7:46am

Did anyone else have that reaction?

09/25/2014 11:00am

Some see hostility where none is meant. Those first impressions can steer the entire verbal exchange.

09/28/2014 7:52pm

It's a shame you don't credit Charles Darwin's writings ("The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals").

11/15/2014 7:55am

I agree completely. I kept wondering how they knew what emotion each person was feeling at that moment, especially when I recognized a couple of people as famous (did they ask Claudia Schiffer what she was feeling when this particular frame, of the probably hundreds of thousands of photos that have been taken of her, was shot?!?).

Joanne Willis
09/15/2013 8:40pm

LOVEreading your blog. Wish i had known your family but as i told you the other night at dinner, i'm flattered to know, and be your friend. You are the most talented, creative person I know and your blog certainly reflects and confirms this. Never quit writing, my friend, i love reading what you write!!

Reply
Kathy Goldner
09/16/2013 5:15am

Amazing story!

Reply
Katie
09/20/2013 9:32am

Tears welled in my eyes as I saw that shoe again. I have such vivid memories of helping him tie those laces through the years, and feeling proud I could do something to help my Pop Pop. He was often tinkering away at a project in hopes to fix something for someone else that it felt good to do be able to "fix" something for him. I am forever grateful for the gift of your words and your willingness to share them with us. I love you.

Reply
Martha Ragland
09/20/2013 12:00pm

Such a sensitive exploration of what this shoe means to you. It's a remarkable image and will surely bring up associations for others, too.

Reply
01/05/2014 11:27pm

Gurukul institution provide affordable fashion designing courses, designing courses in jaipur with your regards.

Reply
02/15/2014 5:18am

Purple laces making me smile also :)

Reply
02/15/2014 5:45am

I smile every time I look at that shoe. Sometimes it makes me laugh out loud. So much we don't know about the people we love.

Reply
02/24/2014 12:45pm

@Susan: You are absolutey right..

02/24/2014 7:58pm

Excellent Blog.

Reply
03/11/2014 12:29pm

Nice combination of purple laces :D

Reply
03/26/2014 1:03am

Amazing article.loved reading every bit.

Reply
04/06/2014 4:54am

Been reading this site for awhile now, always has really good posts and topics please keep it up! loads of blogs are going under lately from lack of new posts etc

Reply
04/09/2014 10:41pm

I harmonize with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your approaching updates

Reply
04/14/2014 3:42am

Instantly amazed with all the useful information that is on it. Great post, just what i was looking for and i am looking forward to reading your other posts soon!

Reply
04/27/2014 11:00pm

I tag it to my favorites internet site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my web site also and let me know what you think.

Reply
06/04/2014 9:57am

Been reading this site for awhile now, always has really good posts and topics please keep it up! loads of blogs are going under lately from lack of new posts etc

Reply
06/18/2014 7:34am

thanks ..i have bookmarked it already

Reply
07/16/2014 12:54am

Another great post, I appreciate all the work you put into this site, helping out others with your fun and creative works.

Reply
08/11/2014 10:46am

Advantageously, the article is really the best on this notable topic. I harmonize with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your approaching updates

Reply
08/13/2014 10:46am

After read a couple of the articles on your website these few days, and I truly like your style of blogging. I tag it to my favorites internet site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my web site also and let me know what you think.

Reply
09/03/2014 2:04am

I am very happy to read this Article.

Reply
09/19/2014 5:38am

I hope you write again very soon!

Reply
09/23/2014 9:43am

Another great post, I appreciate all the work you put into this site, helping out others with your fun and creative works.

Reply
10/22/2014 9:13am

thanks for this awesome web page, i like it post.

Reply
11/15/2014 7:13am

Outstanding blog post, I have marked your site so ideally I’ll see much more on this subject in the foreseeable future.

Reply
11/16/2014 4:00am

Hey that was great to read. Thanks for the great post .Loved every part of it.

Reply

Your article is very nice and can provide inspiration to readers...

Reply
12/30/2014 12:45am

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

Reply
01/07/2015 7:56pm

Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It's always exciting to read through articles from other writers and use something from other websites.

Reply
01/28/2015 9:00am

Pretty cool post. It’s really very nice and useful post.Thanks for sharing this with us! it’s my first visit.

Reply
02/01/2015 10:30pm

I always see the development of this blog, and have a lot of information I get from here, thanks for sharing

Reply
03/03/2015 6:47am

I believe that you recognize how to construct people pay attention to what you have to pronounce, particularly with a concern that’s so vital. I am pleased to suggest this blog.

Reply
04/16/2015 3:35am

thanks ..i have bookmarked it already

Reply

Hello! I've been following your weblog for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Dallas Texas!

Reply

Truly remarkable blog site website despatched evaluations and intensely cooperative minutia in addition to benefits.

Reply
05/11/2015 12:16pm

I am not sure where you're getting your info, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for excellent info I was looking for this information for my mission

Reply
05/19/2015 12:01am

I was really pleased with the conversation in this post, a quick but really fitted.

Reply
05/19/2015 10:04am

Hi there, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam comments? If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you can recommend? I get so much lately it's driving me crazy so any assistance is very much appreciated.

Reply
01/25/2016 1:24am

Thanks for posting this info. I just want to let you know that I just check out your site and I find it very interesting and informative. I can't wait to read lots of your posts

Reply
Barry
03/08/2016 11:24am

Tenacity is one on the greatest gifts one could every receive since assists in enabling one to ‘roll with the punches’ of one’s destiny and fate.

Two quotes from Haruki Murakami from Kafka on the Shore come to mind with regards to self-sacrifice and life memories serving as provocation for one’s writing:

“The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory.”

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Reply
05/03/2016 3:30pm

thank your for the informaton you give here

Reply
07/22/2016 6:43am

This is very nice blog and informative. I have searched many sites but was not able to get information same as your site. I really like the ideas and very intersting to read so much and Please Update and i would love to read more from your site

Reply

The article you have shared here very awesome. I really like and appreciated your work.

Reply
08/09/2016 4:24pm

thank your for the informaton you give here

Reply
09/24/2016 3:19am

Hello, I found your blog in a new directory of blogs. I don’t know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, Your blog looks good. Have a nice day.

Reply

Now and then I’ll stumble across a post like this and I’ll recall that there really are still interesting pages on the web. ^_^. Thanks.

Reply
11/04/2016 6:00am

This is what I have been searching in many websites and I finally found it here. Amazing article. I am so impressed. Could never think of such a thing is possible with it...I think you have a great knowledge especially while dealings with such subjects.

Reply
11/16/2016 9:53pm

Excellent blog

Reply
11/16/2016 9:55pm

great post

Reply
12/01/2016 5:31am

Advantageously, the article is really the best on this notable topic. I harmonize with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your approaching updates.

Reply
12/17/2016 12:29am

Well somehow I got to read lots of articles on your blog. It’s amazing how interesting it is for me to visit you very often.

Reply
12/22/2016 9:27pm

This website was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Appreciate it!

Reply
01/13/2017 3:11am

Well done! Nice post! This really helps me to find the answers to my question. Hoping, that you will continue posting articles having lots of useful information. Thanks a lot!

Reply
01/27/2017 11:59pm

Reply
02/25/2017 6:20pm

what I have read on this page is enough to make me satisfied can menik die this article thanks greetings from me

Reply
02/25/2017 6:20pm

oke broo

Reply
03/18/2017 4:52am

Hello sir, after I read the article you get to the bottom, It is very interesting to look at, it can provide benefits, and also the lessons, I really like it.

Reply



Leave a Reply