It came around again.
That’s what happens when twelve calendar months fly by. Once again it’s the anniversary of my amputation surgery. A day I’ll never forget. A day I dreamed about for years, even decades. A day I did years of research about, so I would have no regrets.
And it worked. Not only do I have no regrets, I’m still just as happy with my new foot, as ecstatic as the day I got it.
January 12th. It’s my ‘other’ birthday. The day I got to start over. I had a lot of trouble finding a doctor who would do the surgery for me. It was a ‘healthy’ foot, after all…no disease, no imminent threat to my health…just a serious threat to my long term mobility, which I guess doesn’t count in orthopedic medicine.
But I finally found my man. He was skeptical, but willing. He was brave enough to trust that I wouldn’t sue him, if I found that having one foot missing wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
So every year, on January 12th, I send him another thank you card. In it I tell him all the things I’ve been able to do that year, because he believed in me. Sometimes I send him pictures, to prove my stories. I don’t want him to ever forget how important he was in my story.
Most years I try to commemorate in some way. It’s a birthday, in a sense, and should be celebrated. But I don’t want to bore my kids to death, since to them it’s ‘just mom’s foot’. So I try to make it fun. In past years we’ve had feet shaped cake or a huge foot shaped cookie. Last year we made regular cupcakes, with the outline of feet on them. My kids joked that the ones I messed up on were my ‘old’ deformed foot. We ate them after dinner and no one complained about having extra treats that day.
This year life was crazier than usual on January 12th. One of my four was in Texas, visiting friends. One had a racquetball court reserved and wouldn’t be home until late. My oldest son and youngest son were all we had left. And it was the night of the big Middle School Open House. That had to be a higher priority than my foot celebration.
But after the Open House, my youngest wanted to celebrate the night by going to McDonalds. We realized we’d never been inside our local McDonalds since we moved here, six months ago, and he had gift cards he’d gotten in his birthday card in October. They were burning a hole in his pocket.
So we went to visit the Golden Arches. It was past eight, in the evening, so we practically had the place to ourselves. My oldest son and I had discussed the occasion of my foot birthday, as we’d run errands, earlier in the day. He brought up the topic, as we sat around the table, eating our fries. Then he decided we should have a contest.
To commemorate the day, we should do something new. Like see who could carve a regular, flat McDonalds burger into the best rendition of mom’s foot. He’s a teenager, and this seemed like a very logical way to make the night special.
Each boy was given one burger and one plastic knife. They brainstormed for a few minutes, then dove in. This is what one of them came up with (blood and all, since it was ‘post surgery’). I won’t tell you which one, so I don’t alter the judging.
This is what the other came up with (turn your head to the right, the picture is sideways). He nearly perfected the large humped big toe I used to have. Both are pretty impressive, I think, considering the medium and available tools.
And then, the ultimate winner emerged.
“Wait! Wait!”, my oldest son proclaimed, waving the plastic knife in the air, “I’ve got one more entry! Wait, just a second…”
He proceeded to tear open a packet of artificial sweetener and make a pile on the tray. Then he took some small pieces of straw wrapper and curled them into tight little knots. Once he placed the knots strategically in the middle of the powdery pile, he announced, “There! That’s PERFECT! I WIN!”
It took just a few minutes before we all got it.
But in fact, my big boy had indeed won the challenge. Because the reality is, my foot was taken from that hospital room, to a mortuary, and cremated on January 12, 2003. It now sits in a velvet box in my closet. Some day soon I will throw those ashes off a beautiful mountainside, in a grand gesture to say goodbye to my old life and welcome in my new one.
But for now it’s a pile of ashes. And it looks a lot like the pile of Sweet N Low with wrapper bits sprinkled throughout. We know. We’ve looked in that velvet box.
Another year has flown by. Hopefully, and almost definitely, this will be the year the book about my journey to mobility will be published, and available to give to others who might be facing some hard life choices. And before I know it, another January will be rolling around. We’ll find a new way to celebrate, I’m sure.
But something else I’m sure about - it will, without a doubt, not ever be as creative and ketchup covered, as our celebration in January of 2012.