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Today’s Mitzvah: The Cobbler’s Children Have No Shoes

Today I will stop by to see 95-y.o. V., something I do a couple of times a week. She lives alone in the house she has occupied since the 1940s. It’s a bit ramshackle now. V.’s (elderly) sons live in other states, but her local tag team includes me.

I occasionally ferry her to the bank or the eye doctor. She used to go with me to the grocery, but lately she isn’t up to it so I go alone to fetch whatever she needs: usually bread and coffee, and almost always Neapolitan ice cream.

Today I am going to do her nails. I polished them a few weeks ago so they would look nice for her 95th birthday party, which included five nieces and grandnieces who flew in from Texas, both of her sons, and her grandson and his family. V. told me that it made her feel good to have her nails done, so I said I’d do them again.

I must mention here that I am possibly the least qualified person in the world to do anyone’s nails. My own are always unvarnished and in various stages of raggedyness. Yesterday at my son’s bike race I saw a young woman whose finger- and toenails were polished a deep, shiny, black. It didn’t look ghoulish or gothic, but dramatic and beautiful because she was young, with gorgeous skin and shiny dark hair that almost matched the polish. I couldn’t stop looking at her nails, and briefly wondered what I would look like if I tried that shade. A harridan, no doubt, and within 20 minutes of mucking around in the sink or garden, the polish would be chipped and horrible.

I won’t try a modern black, green, or blue shade on V. today, but will stick with a more traditional and cheery red hue. This bottle was my mother’s. Unlike her slovenly daughter, she had nails that always looked just so.


About treacycolbert

I make my living by writing about health care. I've always written about life's chastening effect, but just as a way of sorting it out for myself. After years of doing this and keeping these essays quiet, I decided to put some of these impressions out there on this blog. Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think.

One response »

  1. Wonderful to know that such carrying good is being done in the world. Had to laugh at your description of your own nails. Me too! Though I have learned to enjoy a good pedicure…I don’t dig in the dirt with my feet (as much) so it lasts!


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