Shoes Tell the Story of Our Lives
One of my favorite scenes in the book Breathing on Her Own is when Molly holds a pair of her injured daughter’s shoes. She hugs them close to her heart with the thought: Shoes tell the story of our lives.
There is truth in that. I went out to my garden this morning wearing a pair of Clarks leather shoes I’ve owned for close to twenty years. I thought about that line in the book and considered the stories these old shoes might share.
They would tell how they climbed the steps and walked thecampus of Cincinnati Christian University.
They would recount the days of waiting in the hospital for grandbabies to arrive or for the heart surgeon to come out and tell me all was well with my husband.
These shoes would surely speak of the wanderings around airports as my husband and I traveled to places such as France or Finland. Or perhaps as we walked the markets of Cairo.
These shoes have been on my feet at fast food establishments near home as well as fancy restaurants in Italy and Spain.
They were on my feet when I moved to Kosovo for a year.
They, like me, have slowed down a bit. We’re both a bit worn and frayed. But we’re both still useful. Neither of us travel much anymore. A drivable trip here and there, but nothing more since COVID.
So I slip into these black leather shoes to water my garden or weed the flowerbed. They may not be as beautiful or stylish as they once were, but they are like an old friend. And they keep my feet warm and dry.
I know there will come a day when one of us gives out. If they go before I do, I’ll miss them. These old shoes have served me well.
But the one memory I hold is that day in late October over seven years ago.
It is a well-known fact among my family and friends that I tend to lose my shoes. It was not uncommon for me to get ready for church but by the time the family was ready to go out the door, I had lost my shoes.
That October afternoon in 2014, I settled into my desk chair. I was working on a new novel when the phone rang. My husband’s bicycle had run off the road. Tom had been thrown into a tree.
These old leather Clarks were under my desk in plain sight. I slipped into them even as I grabbed my car keys and made it to the scene of Tom’s accident. I wore them as I drove to the hospital and paced the waiting room. They were on my feet as I held his hand, praying as he took his last breath.
I didn’t start this post with that memory in mind. I started it because this morning I pulled out those old leather Clarks so I could go outside and water my garden.
I think Molly was right. Shoes do tell the story of our lives.