I have my dad's foot in my hands. They are failing him these days, these feet of his, and sometimes completely forget that they are supposed to connect his body to the floor, to ground him. I try not to be angry at his feet. It is not their fault they are faulty sometimes; after all, this body is human and it's been through a lot. My fingers push and pull and press at the pale flesh, willing joints to glide, muscles to relax and nerves to calm the eff down.
"I used to sit in this same room while you massaged my feet and calves with witch-hazel after ballet class. We sat on that old salt and pepper couch, on that wall, remember?"
He smiles. Of course, he remembers.
"You did that for me all the time, any time I asked."
He nods, takes a breath. "Do you ever .... massage your .... girls?"
"Yes. I try."
He nods again.
I massage his hands next, kneading the scars from accidents and surgeries. These hands have held me as a baby, spanked my toddler behind, written countless comments on high school essays, given me away at the altar. They used to hold cigarettes, too many cigarettes, one after another. They've built bookshelves for my college dorm room, driven my car across the country, helped me pack and unpack countless times. They've held his newborn granddaughters gently, big scarred hands surrounding perfectly smooth wrapped packages.
His hands and his feet go out to lunch regularly it seems and so those nerves aren't cooperating that much either. They tremble a bit and have lost their formidable, stuck-jar-opening strength. As I rub them, I remember those days, long ago, when he rubbed witch hazel on my legs, never stopping until I said I was done.
Did I thank him back then? I think so. I'd like to think so.
"Thanks," he says when I'm done and I give him a kiss on the forehead.
"You're welcome, Pop. Thank you."