What I Learned When I Washed my Father's Feet
When I was growing up my parents were divorced. My dad, who didn't live with us, was an alcoholic who would spend many nights outside of our house banging on the doors & windows. So I spent those nights with my head under the covers & my fingers in my ears, wishing he would go away.
The Story of a Tumultuous Father/Son Relationship & How it Changed
Fear of My Father & An Evolving Relationship
During the summer I would run to the mailbox to check the mail, & then I’d run back to the house as fast as I could. In my young mind, I thought my dad was going to kidnap me. I’d never been told that by anyone, but it was logical to me at the time.
As I grew into a teenager I began to hate my dad. I hated him for not being the dad I needed. I didn’t want to be around him or have anything to do with him. One day though, things changed.
As I grew older & got married I wanted to bring him back into my life. I called him. Nothing had changed. He was still a drunk. I don’t know what I had expected. Maybe I thought since I had grown up, he had too.
Eventually, I got him to put the alcohol aside long enough for us to come for a visit. For the first time, my dad respected me.
How A Cancer Diagnosis Changed Our Relationship
However, I still had a hard time letting go of all the things from the past. But in 2006, my dad had had cancer for over a year. He had been drafted into Vietnam when he was young & the Agent Orange they used to defoliate the jungle ended up being what caused his cancer. It wreaked havoc on his body.
By April of that year, my sister & I took off from work to go be with our dad & take care of him. We did everything for him. In all honesty, even though he was sick, it was the best time I’d ever had with him. He felt the same way.
Then one day as we were relaxing in the living room my dad asked for one of us to wash his feet. He had had showers, but he wasn’t able to wash his feet like he wanted to. They were very dirty.
There has always been something about feet that made me nauseous. I don’t touch anyone’s feet & I don’t allow anyone to touch mine. I looked at my sister, begging her with my eyes to wash his feet. She looked back at me & shook her head no. It wasn’t because she didn’t want to, but this moment was being set up just for me.
Washing My Father's Feet
I prepared the water just like he asked me to. I got a wash rag & a towel & I began to wash his feet. I found myself wanting to close my eyes, almost like the little boy who had hidden under the covers so long ago. While I was washing his feet I didn’t feel anything. I just wanted to get it over with.
In less than a week my dad passed away.
All I had left were the memories we made in the week my sister & I had spent with him. At least those were the only memories I wanted to dwell on. After the funeral & we went back home I was sitting in a men’s group at my church. I shared the story of washing my dad’s feet.
I came to the realization that the moment held a lot of significance for me. When I washed his feet, I wasn’t only cleansing him, I was cleansing myself of all the hate I had held toward him.
Learning to Let go of Hate
That day was pivotal in my life. It was the day I learned to let go. You can’t hold onto hate. It will only make you sick. When you choose to let go, you’re freeing yourself.
There’s nothing like it.
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About The Author - Jase Rosenburg
Jase Rosenburg is a writer, blogger & speaker. He’s the author of two self-published novels including The Lobby & Bryan’s Journey.
Jase served as an associate pastor for over ten years. His passion is bringing faith to life through the written word. Jase resides in Alabama with his wife Mandy & his children.