The mother of a friend died, and we payed a shiva call. Our friend talked about his mother, telling us a few stories. One involved his fingernails and toenails, which she cut for him until he went away to college at age 18, when he learned that it was possible (and permissible) to clip them for yourself. He told this story, expressing amazement not that his mother insisted on this, but that he let her do it.
For the past several years, she lived in an assisted living facility which has as an activity the preparation of a picture/story book for the children and grandchildren. A mutual friend was reading through the book. She saw a story that the mother had written about her father, who at age 19 had an ingrown toenail, which was badly treated, became infected and resulted in the amputation of not only the toe, not only the foot, but the entire leg above the knee.
It is easy to see why his mother was so careful about his nails, isn’t it? Seems obvious. But neither our friend nor his wife connected the dots. How is it possible that they didn’t put this particular 2 and 2 together? They don’t know. It seems obvious to them now, too.