The Shoe Must Go On
Mom’s walking has become problematic. Her stride has shortened, and she seems to shuffle as she walks, scraping her feet against the ground with each step. There’s not much we can do about this except to keep her active and walking for as long as possible. To do that, she needs shoes that are supportive, comfortable, and easy to put on. When we looked through her closet, we noticed that most of Mom’s shoes are quite old. Their soles are worn and don’t provide much traction. Many are literally falling apart. It’s been a while since she’s remembered to indulge herself in the art of shopping.
So, today, we went shoe shopping for the ultimate in orthopedic shoes. There are many companies that make shoes for the elderly, some with specific diseases in mind, like those made from soft, malleable materials for people with edema or diabetes. Others have the comfort of orthopedic soles, but are so ugly you wouldn’t even buy them for your grandmother. Still others have all the right qualities but don’t open wide enough to slip on.
As we went from store to store, we began to get a sense of what we needed. We rejected laces right away as they are harder to close for both the patient and the caregiver. We spoke to one woman who was wearing a beautiful pair of sturdy white sneakers on her feet. She told us that though they were supportive and comfortable, the weight of the shoe was more than she had anticipated. Plus, white sneakers with a skirt don’t look the most attractive.
We wanted something that was soft, that had a small, cushioned heel, stayed snug across the instep and had wiggle room for the toes.
Mom had trouble figuring out what we were doing in each store. She’d dutifully take off her boots, then try to put them back on. Though we could see with our own eyes how easy or difficult a shoe was to get on, we had to rely on her judgment about whether they fit well. I made her stand up in each new pair we tried to check on her toes; it brought back strong memories of shoe shopping with my kids. I wasn’t always successful with them when they were young. Sometimes, despite my best efforts, they went for looks rather than comfort, and we’d pay for our mistakes with shoes that hurt their feet. In this case, I tried on the same shoes in my size that Mom was trying on to get a sense of how they felt.
Ultimately, we found a pair that met all our needs. They are low-heeled black closed shoes with a Velcro strap that open wide enough to slip your foot into. They are supportive and comfortable. I’ve owned shoes by the same company, and I am satisfied with their quality. We walked out of the store with them on her feet.
When we got home, I quickly hid her old, worn shoes at the back of her closet. Hopefully she’ll see her new shoes by her bed each morning and will not hesitate to wear them.
Meanwhile, as Mom and I were out spending money, my dad was at his studio painting. He reached down to pick up a cap from a tube of paint, stretched in an unusual way and reinjured the leg he had bruised just a few weeks ago. It was so painful that he asked me to collect him at his studio and drive him home in his car. Luckily, he was able to see his doctor the same afternoon. The ultrasound revealed no discernable damage beyond a badly banged-up muscle; thankfully, they ruled out deep vein thrombosis.
As I was getting ready to leave, I helped both my parents into bed for an afternoon nap. I reminded Mom to take off her glasses, put her new shoes neatly by the bed, closed the window, and tucked them both under the covers. What a role reversal! The shoe was now definitely on the other foot. We all giggled as I kissed them goodbye and wished them pleasant dreams.
Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah, Come Light the Menorah
Let’s have a party, we’ll all dance the Hora
The miracle of Chanukah. After defeating the Greeks in 164 BCE, the Jews needed oil to rededicate the Temple and keep the menorah (candelabrum) burning through the night. A small container was found with enough oil to light the menorah for only one full day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days and nights, the time needed to prepare a fresh batch of oil for the menorah. Thus, in honor of the oil, it is traditional to eat fried foods on Chanukah.
Apart from the ever-present fried jelly doughnut, the other standard Chanukah treat is potato latkes or pancakes (with home-made applesauce, of course). I like potato latkes, but here’s a sweet potato spinach latke that will knock regular potato latkes right out of the park.
Sweet Potato Spinach Latkes
These are so good, you might want to make a double batch.
1 large sweet potato, cubed
1 cup frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup oil (for frying)
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Cube sweet potato and place in pan of boiling water and simmer until soft. Drain, mash and set aside. Fry onion and garlic in olive oil until onions begin to brown. Add parsley, salt and pepper. In a large bowl, combine sweet potato, fried onions, spinach and one egg. Break second egg in a shallow bowl and beat lightly. Heat remaining oil in a large frying pan. Form patties and dip in egg before placing in the frying pan. With spatula, tamp down on patties to flatten slightly. Fry on both sides until latkes are brown. Remove to a colander or plate to cool.