Running Barefoot

runningbarefootby Anniel10/15/16
I hated wearing shoes when I was young. My mother tried her best to make me wear them, but my soles were so thick with calluses I could run over glass and not get too worried about it. My Uncle Joe would wince when he saw me, shake his head sadly, and call me “Daisy May.”

I would run over the fields around the shack we lived in, step in the middle of fresh cow pies and keep going to the nearest irrigation ditch to rinse my feet off, until I stepped on the next hidden pie. Sometimes I managed to spot them and jump over them in time to stay clean, relatively speaking.

I also ran on the unpaved gravel road in front of our yard.

Now I am such a wimp I cry when I walk on padded carpeting. No calluses for my tender toes anymore.

I tell you this so you can fully appreciate the marathon I ran when we thought my youngest brother was going to die, and we made solemn promises to a God we knew almost nothing about in order to save him.

We were four young children. My eldest brother was weeks from his 11th birthday, I was almost 8, my next brother was 5-1/2, and our baby brother was not yet 2. Our father had taken our only vehicle somewhere and we were home with Mom.

The front screen door opened to a cement porch with a couple of steps down to the yard. The baby liked to kind of swing on the door while hanging on to the door handle, and ride the door back to the house. Mom tried to stop him, but . . . On this particular day I watched him for a few minutes, when a sudden gust of wind whipped the door wide open and threw him out onto the porch. He stood up and staggered into the house gushing blood all over the place. We children all screamed and Mom ran out.

Grabbing the baby up Mom tried to stop the bleeding with a wet cloth, no luck. Then she told me to run the mile or so to the nearest neighbor with a car to take them to the doctor in the nearest town. Off I went down the gravel road. Out of breath when I got there, I gasped out the story to Mrs. Patterson and started running back home, when I saw our truck speeding past me.

My father, who normally fainted at the very sight of blood, was wild eyed as he stared straight ahead. My mother had my almost albino blonde baby brother on her lap with the bloody cloth still up to his face. Even his hair was bloody. They all looked terrible and I kept crying as I ran back to tell Mrs. Patterson that she needn’t come after all.

When I got home my two other brothers and I sat on the steps and cried over the certain demise of our baby brother. Then we began our bargaining with God. If He would just save the baby we would be such GOOD children. We would do whatever our parents asked, say our prayers every night, never complain about our chores, wash our hands, brush our teeth, never lie about anything, go to Sunday School without complaint, whatever was required. Most importantly we would NEVER, EVER be mean to our baby brother again. Please save him and we would be PERFECT CHILDREN. Promise.

Then we just huddled together for comfort until our parents came home. The baby had a measly 7, count them, 7 stitches on the edge of his chin. All of our crying and bargaining and the dumb brat needed only 7, count them again, 7 stitches? What a revolting development that was.

We were in a moral dilemma all right. Did we need to keep our promises to God for ONLY 7 stitches? I don’t remember ever thanking God for saving the baby.

You can tell I had a steep learning curve ahead of me when I finally decided to think more seriously about the state of my soul. As I began school and had to wear those hated shoes and my fleshy soles softened, there were more serious promises to make, more learning to be done, more promises to keep.

I may be a wimp now about the soles of my feet, but I have to be be both softened, and also strengthened, about what I can and will do about my most important asset, my heavenly soul. No bargaining, no dishonesty,
just honest, fully informed adult repentance.

These days I want to be square with God when I meet Him. • (536 views)

Share
This entry was posted in Essays. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Running Barefoot

  1. Gibblet says:

    “Please save him…”

    Anniel, I love hearing your childhood stories. This one reminds me of an elderly man who fell off his ladder and injured his arm, and his friends at church prayed for healing. The next Sunday when I saw him I asked about his arm. He said it was fine, and pulled up his sleeve to prove it. Then he laughed and said, “everyone is so surprised that my arm is healed, but isn’t that what they prayed for?”
    I’m glad the prayers for your little brother were answered that way, too.

  2. Rosalys says:

    In your childish ignorance, you made a bargain with God. And thank God! He’s going to hold you to that promise! You are going to become that perfect child one day when you meet Him in glory. The thing is, you won’t be doing it – He will.

    Love your stories, Annie.

    • Anniel says:

      Gibblet and Rosalys:

      Kim, the little brother in the story, called a few minutes ago, so I asked what he remembered about it, and he said just a little, especially the blood. I read my story to him. His response? He always knew he was the only PERFECT child in the family and we were all jealous because Mom and Dad loved him best.

      That’s the official word now.

      • Gibblet says:

        As the youngest sibling, one can argue that mom and dad kept having kids until they got it right! And just so you don’t have to ask, I’m the youngest of four. Haha

        • Timothy Lane says:

          And I’m the youngest of three. My siblings are still alive, though both suffer from the family curse (deterioration of the cerebellum). Both made it to the family reunion a week ago, though, as did I (it was held in the Mammoth Cave Hotel, just a couple of hours from me if I’d had directions).

          • Gibblet says:

            Timothy, it sounds as if you took an unintended sightseeing detour. Nonetheless, I’m happy for you and your siblings that you all had time together!

            • Timothy Lane says:

              It didn’t help that I misread the AAA tourbook, reading exit 48 as 46. But even after I got on the right road, there were 2 crossroads where I had to guess which road to take — and I made the wrong choice both times. But I got there while the line for the lunch buffet was still moving.

              Someone there mentioned a website on the Vietnam War that had an article about my father by a soldier who was unable to take a certain helicopter flight, so my father went instead — and was killed. I’m hoping to find out what the website is so I can read the article.

              • Gibblet says:

                Timothy, I’ve read your comments about the loss of your father in other places here at ST. I’m sorry for your loss. I hope you find the article you heard about. Perhaps it will answer some of the “what if” and “how come” questions you may still have.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Lucky you didn’t get tetanus.

  4. Lucia says:

    Tetanus, which we called lockjaw, or hookworm, or flukes, or any myriad of barn yard parasites that my grandmother would warn me about when I went barefoot on the farm. I connected to your story and those days when life was simple and more certain.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Well, they had regular immunizations against tetanus many decades ago (I recall painfully the DPT shots of my childhood), so this would have been no problem for her if she had them. Hookworm is a southern disease, and I’m not sure Annie lived that far south. Flukes, I believe, tend to be likelier in wetlands (that’s why they’re a big problem in rice-producing countries). But even aside from them, there are ticks, fleas, and others. Going barefoot outside is a risk.

      • Anniel says:

        I have been trying to remember if I ever cut my feet or needed a tetanus shot. It’s quite probable I had no shots until I started school a little over a year after this story. I remember all the new kindergarten children lined up for mandatory shots and crying because they were afraid of getting “stuck.”

        My older brother was a different matter. He was in need of tetanus shots several times. Once he stepped on a old board with a rusty nail sticking up in it. A deep puncture wound he had to have medically cleaned, and get a shot for.

        The absolute worst foot wound he ever had happened on one of the few times he went out barefoot and stepped on a jagged T-bone from a steak a dog had dragged into our yard. He stepped on it smack in the middle of the arch of his right foot and drove it almost all the way up to his instep. At first my mom couldn’t tell what it was and tried to pull it out with her fingers. My poor brother screamed and almost fainted. My parents went out and found the rest of the bloody broken bone, and family lore has it that mom called the doctor and told the nurse who answered the phone that they were bringing their son in “because he has a bone in his foot”, and hung up before the nurse could question her.

        The doctor was mystified by what the problem could be. He sent my brother on to the hospital where they operated to remove the bone. I imagine he also had another tetanus shot on that one.

        My own Alaska children would never go barefoot outdoors, too cold in winter, and they were all afraid of the grass in the summers. They dragged around old baby blankets to sit on when they were outside. We did have one neighbor boy who went out barefoot all year-round.
        Brrr, it’s a wonder he didn’t get frostbite.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          When I was younger, I found it too time-consuming to put on shoes and socks to take out the garbage, so I did it barefoot — even with snow on the ground. I wouldn’t do that now, but then I do have some flip-flops.

      • Lucia says:

        My grandmother was from Missouri. When I was a kid there wasn’t DPT shots.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *