I wasn’t aware that I was different,
and never thought of myself as deformed
until I was told, quite unkindly.

I just had ugly feet and pain all through
the twenty four hour days, only aware
when my shoes became as deformed as my feet.

My older sister wanted to be a nurse from the earliest age.
One of my most vivid moments was behind closed doors,
I overheard, “We know Margaret will be a nurse,
we just don’t know what will become of Rosemary."

That fearful thought as a very small person,
almost broken, though it felt inappropriate to ask
for an explanation. And so I grew up with the burden
of not knowing what I would become.

I remember wearing an attractive summer outfit – pink, in fact –
and saying to my mother “But no pretty shoes".
Her reply:  “Put a smile on your face and no one will look past your knees!!”

Instead of playing hockey, I studied Speech and Music
and was protected by the conductor of the choir
standing in the centre, directly in front of me.

I never got any special attention or medication,
and was expected to keep up with everyone else,
and in my 50s I had a fierce argument with a doctor
who said I had been the victim of child abuse.

I laughed in his face, “It gave me character to be treated like everyone else",
though I do remember the shame when the scorned spinster nursing sister,
the night before my first operation at the tender age of 14 told me,
“You’ve got old women’s feet”.

So, do I want anyone to “mend my life"?
No, because without my favourite pain, I wouldn’t be me,
though those young days of “suffer for glamour” did take their toll
in the morning after dancing the night away and were especially debilitating,
but self inflicted and to this day I enjoy dancing.

But I must admit doing a deal with God.
My feet – both of them – went black to my ankles when I was 23.
I spent almost a year in and out of hospital, two operations failing badly.
“If the third doesn’t work, you won’t walk," said the surgeon.
My chat to God: “If you help me walk, I promise to be good."
My part of the bargain hasn’t come to fruition yet, but give it time.

So you see, we all have choice.
Strength and positive, or weak and negative – a no-brainer.
I’m not saying there aren't difficult days, but a smile
and a sense of humour does help, and in my own career
I did have the odd one who “Enjoyed ill health", but not for me.

I am so grateful, because I did become.
And though I still often wonder what it must be like to take off for a hike,
I have hiked across most continents.
And though I still admire beautiful shoes, I don’t hunger for them,
and now have the satisfaction that those flat, comfy and mostly ugly shoes
are now in fashion.

Who and What would I be without these two wonderful feet I have?
What would I have become?
Mend my life?
It was mended a long, long time ago.