My Mother’s Shoes

One thing often forgotten in the confusion of a family death is the afterwards. The drawers and closets of socks and sweaters and shirts. Pants.  Dresses.  Purses. Hidden letters.  Trinkets bought and tucked away. And shoes.

I’d never thought about all these little pieces of my Mother’s life.  The shoes she worn and loved.  What did they mean to her?  Which were her favorites?  The ones she only tolerated? White Keds.  Black pumps. Soft suede casuals.  And what about the broken ones left abandoned on the closet floor?  Why did she keep them?  What did they mean to her that she didn’t throw them away.

She was a tosser, opposite to my Father, the Yankee.  If you didn’t need it, don’t keep it.  If it’s broken.  Toss.  How many of my cherished toys broke and vanished? But back to shoes.

My Father asked my sister and I to go through Mom’s clothes.  I can understand he didn’t want to make those decisions, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be for me.  They were just shoes.

My sister went through and tossed the broken and scuffed shoes, separating the trash from those good enough to donate, leaving those she thought one of us could wear. And so I found myself sitting before Mom’s closet, shoes spread around on the floor.  Memories of a life gone forever.

At first, I was interested. What girl wouldn’t be interested in new(er) shoes?  (Not that I’m a shoe freak by any mean, but come on….)  My sister and aunt, both there for the great shoe distribution, kept handing me shoes.

“Look at these.  Almost new.  I bet they will fit you.”

“Are you sure you don’t want these, too?”

“You can’t have too many black pumps.”

And the heartbreaker – “Mom would want you to wear them.”

Skip to later.  At home, sitting on the floor in front of my much smaller closet, shoes spread on the floor before me.  Do I want them?  Yes and no.  Maybe she would want me to wear them, but can I?

I pick up the soft suede casuals, try them on.  I really like the style.  It’s me all the way but….I can remember her wearing them, loving them.  And then I can’t put them on again.

White Keds.  Still in the box with the receipt.  She loved Keds.  White. Blue. Red.  How many days did I see her in Keds? How can I wear them?

Black Pumps.  I remember her wearing them to Church and special events.  In fact, I remember her wearing them more than any of her other dress shoes.

Memories in shoes.  The boxes sit on my bedroom floor for weeks, pushed back and forth depending on the dresser drawer I need to open.  Then I toss them in the closet – in their boxes still – because I can’t bear to look at them.  On the other hand, I can’t bear to give them away.

I don’t need them.  Most of the time, I think I should donate them.  Somebody would love them.  In the end, however, I can’t bear the thought of anybody else wearing my Mother’s shoes.

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Quote For The Day 3-30-2015

“I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.”
C. JoyBell C.

Thoughts on Regrets

“We all do things we desperately wish we could undo. Those regrets just become part of who we are, along with everything else. To spend time trying to change that, well, it’s like chasing clouds.”

Libba Bray

Everybody has regrets.  We all live with the what-ifs, the should-have-beens and could-have-beens.  I’ve had my share and more. Most have faded away, others remain with me to this day.  The maxims suggest you live without regret.  I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time working that sentiment into daily life. If I deny those feeling, don’t I deny a part of me I don’t want to lose? I don’t want to live in the past, but how can I change my future if I don’t understand what molded my past?

I regret when my first tabby cat, Dandor, died trying to get to the bedroom to be with me. I was asleep and didn’t know until the next day. It was a natural death, don’t get me wrong, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.  Didn’t make my regret any easier. I regret that I wasn’t more self-away when I first met my ex because then he wouldn’t have been anything to me. I would have seen through his lies and been strong enough to say, ‘I deserve better.’

Regret. Regret. Regret. So many regrets in one lifetime. I treasure these regrets because they are the building blocks upon which my life has been constructed, stepping stones to a stronger and calmer and happier me.  That doesn’t mean I will never have another regret. I  know I will and trying to pretend otherwise is like turning a blind eye to reality.

My biggest regret now is that I didn’t keep the last promise I made to my Mother. When we put her in respite care while my Dad was in the hospital, I promised I would take her home. Every time I saw her, I promised.  She would cry and I would remind her of the promise and the tears would stop. When Dad got better, he realized he couldn’t care for her by himself any longer.  The result – leaving her where she didn’t want to be. Promise broken. Not my fault. Not anybody’s fault. It was what it was. A broken promise never to be mended. An ache of pain which will linger for a long time to come.

How do we survive the avalanche of regret? One step at a time.  One day at a time.  One moment at a time. Forgiving yourself is a lifetime project. No one conquers those pains in an hour or a day. Sometimes it takes the lifetime. We learn to crawl, then walk, and then run from the hurt behind.  Other times, we sit still and silent, letting the pain and regret settle deep inside us until we realized that, no matter how bad, the regret and the pain is not going to kill us.