It’s a father-daughter ritual I never expected.
Every 4 – 6 weeks, I push open the door to our local nail salon, bells clanging while all the Vietnamese ladies turn and welcome my Father and me.
“Hello Angie! Hello Daddy!” they sing out in their accent and point to two empty chairs.
I’ve done many things with my Father over the years – baseball games, amusement parks, movies, picnics, shopping, dinner. But I never pictured pedicures on that list. Farm boys don’t typically soak their tootsies. But since a salt scrub and a little TLC are good for his circulation, we’ve become regulars.
If my Father did not have Alzheimer’s, he would slide into the pedicure chair, take off his shoes and socks and wait for the basin to be filled with warm water. But since he does have this disease, there are times his mind doesn’t connect the dots anymore and he’s not sure what to do.
He has all the wonderment of a child who is exploring the world around him. But instead of taking in information, there is nowhere for that knowledge to be retained. Some days it’s like the doors of his mind are locked and impenetrable. Other days, he knows exactly what to do.
He used to slide quite easily into the pedicure chair, but now that his balance has been affected, there’s always a chance he’ll plop down into the basin rather than the seat. He actually did this at the barber shop a couple of months ago. I took my eyes off him for a few seconds to talk to the barber and in those few seconds my Father sat down in the cavity of the barber chair where your feet are supposed to go. Thankfully, he wasn’t hurt. Now I keep my eyes on him all the time.
There are times my Father has tried to sit on the pedicurist’s stool, the one with six small wheels on the bottom that roll you around as soon as you sit down. But one of the ladies will rush over to him and say, “No Daddy! Not there. Sit here,” and point to his rightful seat.
And this makes me happy. Not that my Father doesn’t know where to sit, but that someone else is watching out for him. Maybe it’s because of his jovial demeanor. Maybe it’s because their culture teaches to always take care of the elderly. Maybe it’s both. Whatever the reason, I’m grateful.
Like a mother trying to calm her crying baby when a total stranger picks up the infant’s pacifier that fell to the floor and hands it back to the mother, I am so grateful when someone else steps forward to help with even the smallest of gestures.
So when my Father finally settles into the chair and soaks his feet, I know he’s in good hands.
“Daddy! How old are you?” they ask.
He tells them 79.
“What!? You look 70!” they say.
He tells them stories of being in the Air Force. They listen with rapt attention. He starts with one story and ends it with details from another. They have no idea.
I lay my head back and soak my feet while listening to their conversation.
Even farm boys from Tennessee need a little pampering.