Roses, Noses & Toes(es)

Mama had many superstitions as well as sayings for many of them.  Occasionally, some of them resurface under unusual circumstances.  Frequently at some untimely event, her comment would have been, “Fishele, ikh hob dir gezogt…” (Fishele, I told you…)

She had an aversion to her adored boys ever walking barefoot.  We were admonished with, “Me tor nit geyn borves” (One is not permitted to walk barefoot).

Originally, I thought it would be to prevent catching a cold from walking on the chilly winter floors.  It also occurred to me that she thought we might get a splinter from the old country farmhouse’s wooden floors.

In later years she confided in me that she did not want us to stub our toes or nose.  Since roses already are red they were thrown in along with the stubbed toes and nose.  It was shtekshikh (slippers) that she had wanted us to wear whenever we left bed after going to sleep at night.

Nighttime duties in winter were complicated.  On the one hand we used a Mason jar to be emptied the next morning, or it was outside to the three-seated outhouse, some twenty yards behind the farmhouse. 

This of course required putting on our boots either because of the snow or the ever-present mud.

So stubbing our toes or nose was the reason.  Now in my own twilight years, and also with diminishing sight, it is even more important to heed Mama’s advice.  I have learned to navigate in the dark by putting my fists together and elbows extended in front of my face.  Most of the time the object is high and this protects my face (nose).  The slippers protect my toes.

Since many of us have our toes extend out further than our nose, the slippers hit the object first.  There are some of us who have added a little over the years and our baykhele (abdomen) protrude beyond our toes. This adds a third degree of safety.

The only place where an unexpected problem arises is with low-hanging branches. 

Mama does not know about my Orientation and Mobility training and using the white cane in dark and unknown places or for use in crossing major intersections. 

Mama does not know that I am almost blind now, but I shall always be able to see Mama and hear her near me saying, “Me tor nit geyn borves.”(One is not permitted to walk barefoot).