She used to sit with me every day to make certain I did my leg lifts. I would sit in a chair and raise my leg. Just the knee lifting the rest. One day she got a clever idea. It came after I could easily raise my leg. She tied small cans of tomato paste onto my leg using handkerchiefs. I graduated to soup cans. Eventually I made it all the way to those big cans of tomatoes.

I started wearing those wraparound ankle weights whenever I took a long walk. It was the late 60s and early 70s when I discovered them. One of the good things about them was that it encouraged me to remember to pick my leg up properly instead of dragging it when I was tired.

I believe that what is wrong with my foot is called ‘drop foot’ or something like that. It locks at a certain point and can’t be forced further up. So it isn’t a matter of muscle strength. But it also hangs down farther than the good foot when my legs are dangling from a chair that is too tall for my short legs.

When I was 19, in an attempt to make the foot lift easier, the doctors took the muscle out of my big toe and moved it higher on my foot. they fused that toe. While it was in the process of fusing, it had a long pin in the toe. The tip of it stuck out so they would have something to grab onto. I was on crutches for about a month. Two weeks after they put the pin in, I was speeding through our home, doing my usual dumb shit, and banged the toe, driving the pin all the way in. It hurt, but didn’t really phase me. I sat down to look at it.

My grandfather was more freaked than I was. He kept cussing. “How can you look at it? It makes me sick.”