|Baby brother . . . being entertained|
My father (herinafter known as 'Dad') was a rancher.
He had been born that way.
In his twenties, he added the title of 'Veterinarian' to that.
But he was first and foremost, a rancher.
As a rancher, his wardrobe seldom varied.
Heavy work pants.
Which were so much more than mere footwear.
Dad's boots were, in fact, the signal that opened and closed the work day.
As well as a source of entertainment.
On several levels.
Dad's boots were - because he had 'special' feet – special.
They were heavy.
And specifically designed to compensate for his long, narrow, profoundly flat extremities.
They laced up the front.
And fit . . . well.
They were the favourite entertainment for my baby brother.
When he was . . . umm . . . a baby.
A source of laughter for us kids when we'd try them on.
Then attempt to walk.
Usually covered in mud and manure during the day's labours, then scrupulously cleaned before being brought into the house.
With Dad's pocket knife. (But that is yet another story.)
In short, they were a part of my Dad.
An important part.
Dad always donned them himself.
Said donning, after breakfast, was always the signal that visiting was over and the workday starting.
But Dad never, ever took his boots off by himself.
In fact, the removal of Dad's boots was quite a process.
And a family tradition.
Let me describe . . .
Dad would take his seat in his usual comfy recliner.
And his numerous children would scatter, suddenly recalling activities that needed immediate attention.
But there was always a laggard.
Someone who was the slowest to react.
Dad would pin them to their chair with a look.
Then silently hold out a foot.
Reluctantly, the child would assume the position.
Facing away from Dad and bent forward, clutching said boot between their knees with both hands.
Dad would then put his other foot on his helper's backside and start pushing.
His boot would be quickly and efficiently . . . removed.
And dropped on the floor.
The process was repeated with the second boot.
The footwear was then gathered.
And set aside.
Only then was the
slave helper, released.
As mentioned, this procedure signalled the end of the work day.
Odd, isn't it, that a humble pair of boots would assume such proportion in our daily life?
But they did.
Now in his late eighties, Dad has given up boots.
Shoes now replace his slippers when he is going outside.
And, like his slippers, they slip on and off easily.
I was watching him the other day as he sat down.
Staring at the footwear he now pulls on.