Even as I think of my mother now in 2022 at the age of almost 93, she’s as beautiful, sweet, and caring as she was back in 1960. Raising four loud and busy girls is an ample excuse for any mother to let herself go to pot. Not my mom. She was stylish too. Long before any trend, she wore a gold bracelet around her upper arm with a sleeveless sheath dress. Very chic.
When I was 13, she allowed me to wear kitten heels for church, but I had my eye on the exquisite pair of silk striped pumps she only wore on special occasions. They were the most stunning jewel colors of rose, plum, cerulean, emerald, scarlet, gold, and moss. In my mind, there was nothing more sophisticated than those shoes. Finally, at the age of 15, she gave me permission to wear them on one of our Sunday outings. I was ecstatic. Although by this time I was on the verge of growing out of them. Yet like Cinderella’s stepsisters, I squeezed my foot into those striped beauties.
On this particular day, we were traipsing through model homes in our community for decorating tips. On my feet for three hours, I soldiered on not willing to admit they-were-killing-me! Needless to say, this was the one and only time I wore them.
Every now and then for years to come, Mom would mention she “was cleaning out my closet and I found those striped shoes.” Or years later I would say, “Whatever happened to those striped shoes.” Each time they were mentioned, Mom carried them out as if they were the crown jewels. She’d ceremoniously open the original box from J. S. Raub, now dulled with age. After a few minutes of admiring, fondling, and stroking them, she carefully slipped them back into their box for safekeeping until someone thought about them again in a few years.
Fifty years passed and they remained coddled in their hiding place until one Christmas I unwrapped a gift from her to find “THE shoes” cradled in their original box. How is it that I could be so excited about a pair of fifty-year-old shoes with scuffed toe marks that I can no longer wear? Because they represented a right of passage for me and expressed a change and transformation at a significant time in my life. I was firmly in my mother’s shoes, becoming a woman to follow all that she had taught me and still does. I knew she had given me her best and she was what I wanted to become.
I could never hide those treasures in my closet, and they are proudly displayed in my glass front bookcase for all to see. They are there to remind me of the beautiful, sweet and caring woman that taught me how to wear all my shoes with grace.