Friday, December 23, 2011
The Day The Lord Sat In Our Kitchen
I remember that morning as if it was yesterday. My brothers, sister and I were up early as usual since it was summer vacation and we didn't want to miss one minute of being out of school, but today we were up early for another reason. We were all in the kitchen with Maman and Papa. This particular morning was difficult for all of us, for we didn't know what was going to happen. You see, the afternoon prior, my Papa came home from the foundry as usual except he got out of the car very slowly, grimacing and slowly limped to the front door. He told us after settling into his chair in the kitchen, that a piece of cast iron he had been carrying slipped from his hands and crushed his toes on the right foot. He said it had happened around two o'clock in the afternoon, yet he had continued to work through the rest of the day.
We watched Maman that morning on her knees before my Papa, who had been getting ready for work, slowly and as gently as possible, place an old, stretched out woolen sock over his swollen foot. We saw his face. We saw Maman's face. I remember taking the breath I had forgotten to take earlier when I had seen his foot exposed for the first time. It was an ugly red and blue mass of what should have been a foot.
There was no extra money for anything in those days, especially for a doctor, so visiting his office wasn't even taken into consideration. No, going to work was his only thought. Maman then picked up the other sock and with the same gentle touch, she placed it over the other one she had just put on his foot. I had never seen my Papa's face like that. None of us had.
Waiting for him to take a breath, Maman then told my older sister to go and get the pair of galoshes that were kept in the closet, and bringing them to her, Maman took the right one and stretched it out with her hands as much as possible, struggling against the resistant rubber until my father touched her hand and took it from her. His strong arms stretched it as much as they could until he could no longer do it and gave it back to her.
On her knees again and pained with the image of my Papa's face, she slowly began to slide it over the woolen socks. It was so hard and painful for him and she felt every wince and grunt from this man, her husband, who allowed her to do this for him. There was no way he could have done this on his own. He didn't have too. She was there.
Finally, after she was done, my brothers, sister and I all lined up as we always did for bedtime or for when Papa went to work and took our turns to kiss him on the cheek. Picking up his lunch box he limped out to the car and got in without another word. We all stayed in the kitchen and watched Maman, with her left arm around her middle hugging herself and holding up the elbow of the hand that had swept the curtain to one side of the door window..
Maman watched as Papa drove away to work, like any normal day only it was not normal. Maman was biting her lower lip and I remember thinking that she only did that when she was really worried about something. I was to young to know how worrisome this day was for her. She continued to stare intently out the window until Papa's car was out of sight and then turned to us again and resumed being the mother that she was after her role of being the wife and fed us breakfast.
For three days Papa went to work like that until the swelling in his foot had subsided enough to put on his right work boot again. He never missed a beat, never missed day: always food on the table and a roof over his children's and wife's head.
It wasn't until years later, after getting married and having my own children and working to support my family did I understand what my father did for us that day. I look back and I see Jesus sitting in that chair, taking the pain for His children so they could live...doing what he did best...loving his family.
A couple of years ago, I reached the same age my father was when he died. I have yet to become a fraction of the man and father to my children that Papa was to us.
Vous etes souvent dans mes pensee Papa, et toujours dans mon coeur...
Merci mon Papa, Adieu