I decided. That’s pretty much all it takes. I decided that I wanted to try going barefooted.
When I was in my fifties, I was diagnosed with something like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Apparently it wasn’t, but the medication for the Fever zapped whatever it was. My left hip started hurting and when I turned 64, I was referred to a surgeon after pain medication quit helping. I was told, “Yep, your hip is pretty bad, but I’m not going to tell you to have the operation. You are going to come tell me when you’re ready.”
When I turned 68, my wife, Linda, told him that I was ready. We took a class explaining what the patient and caregiver could look forward to. I was on a gurney lined up for the operating room, and Linda kissed me as I was wheeled away. Afterward, she told me that about 45 minutes later, Dr. McQueary came to the waiting room and told her, “We got him. You can go see him now.”
After some hospital therapy I was sent home. I recuperated with in-home therapy. I had been told that for a person my age, the normal recovery time was 30 to 90 days. I want you to know that 27 days after my surgery, my therapist fluttered her fingers at me, “Nothing further we need to do. Go play.” so I skipped out of her office.
On a follow-up visit explaining to me how to take care of an artificial hip, my doctor wanted to know if I had any questions. I asked if I should be looking for anything special in shoes, and he answered, “You really won’t need shoes. It would be better if you just go barefooted as much as you can.”
That summer, I was barefooted out in my barren garden and regretted losing a springtime of gardening. On a whim, I took a hike around the neighborhood. I realized that I didn’t need shoes. I decided, “I do not need to wear shoes!” From my corner window, looking out onto the street, I decided that shoes — and further — that clothing was unnecessary.
I found a website, the Society for Barefoot Living, “barefooters.org” and another website about nude living, “figleafforum.com” and communicated with both sites. I still belong to the SBL but the FLF, although archived, is quiet today.
At my age, public nudity spells senility, so I had to convince Linda that I was not going senile. I quit wearing anything that I didn’t need to around the house. One night after supper, I was doing my turn washing the dishes. She slipped in behind me, patted my butt, and said, “So: this is the new normal?” She even tans nude on our back patio with or without me. Our son’s family won’t join us, but they know not to be alarmed if they catch us uncovered.
Barefooting is a step in the right direction. I get around better in my seventies than I did in my sixties. I know that this can’t last, but I want to enjoy my rejuvenation for as long as I can. I have learned when and where I can go without shoes, and how to soothe the bewilderment people feel when they see me barefooted.
Our private back yard is now known as our campground, and friends and neighbors respect our practice. We have not made any converts. We live in the “Show-me” state, so until other people can accept something this bizarre, all we can do is discuss the possibility. Some understand, and some don’t.
Take it from a guy who was converted to nudism. I’ve been on both sides. Linda and I were raised thinking that we had to wear clothing, but we gave it a try and found out that we didn’t. We didn’t raise our son or daughter as naturists while they were growing up, but now they respect our old-age lifestyle. We try not to hide it and we don’t ridicule anyone for not joining us. We just appreciate that we can.