I glimpsed her at the back of a long line trailing down the aisle, shuffling forward in the slow side-to-side dance of people waiting their turn.
She wore a bright fuchsia trench coat, hair coiffed in a cute side sweep. Behind her bobbed the heads of two bright-eyed daughters, brunettes like their mother. In her arms she held another girl. The smallest, hair pinned back with a pink bow to match.
Did you see them come in? he whispered when he saw where I was staring. She was pushing that little one in a tiny wheelchair.
The family made their way to the front of the line. She swung the tiny girl with limp legs into the wooden chair and knelt down at her feet. Took a pitcher of water and began to pour it slowly over her daughter’s toes.
As she washed, she looked up into the girl’s face and smiled, her eyes bright. Then she dried each small foot with a fluffy white towel and gathered the child back into her arms, setting her gently on the floor. One by one her other daughters eagerly jumped into the chair. Each one received the same wide smile, the same loving attention.
While her sisters’ feet were being washed, the smallest girl began to crawl back down the aisle, dragging her legs behind her. An older woman in the front pew frowned. Without the wheelchair, she was just another antsy child.
But without a word, the mother turned and smiled, bent down to sweep the girl up into her arms and led the group back to their places in the last pew.
That’s what she does all day long, I realized, tears springing into the corners of my eyes.
She washes feet.