the shoes

Day 11 :: The Shoes

6 ½ AAA

How is it possible to remember her shoe size and not her presence.

It seems like only yesterday that she could wear glamor. I can see them clearly.


Roger Vivier shiny black patent leather with gold pilgrim buckles

Manolo Blahnik classic stilettos

Kitten heels, dyed to match

The shoes on her feet were an expression of her place in the world, her status, her so-thought sense of self and acceptance into a society that she never felt a part of.

Maybe one more pair of shoes will get me in? Maybe the right pair of shoes will make me acceptable. Just one more pair. Just one more.

Now she will only wear Mephistos.

Red leather. Black suede, bejeweled sandals, snakeskin, leopard skin, all with a firm, solid sole, each fit with an arch support. Many with velcro straps. Tiny tennis shoes or shoes that tie up, and fit snugly so that she can walk with confidence.

Occasionally, maybe half a dozen, at least, Dansko’s in all colors and patterns.

In 1973, I wore a pair of white patent leather platform shoes for my mother. I wanted to be barefoot at my wedding, but the fight was not worth it. Now I wear comfort.

Chuck Taylor All Stars



Doc Martins


I bought a pair of red boots. She bought the same ones.

I got a pair of red Mary Janes. She bought a pair.

She wants my red converse. She tries them on and they don’t fit. Why aren’t they Mephistos?

She wanted my purple hiking shoes, settled on brown and wears two pair of socks with a full insert to make them fit. But hike she will, in mother-daughter matching boots.


She wants what she cannot have.


She wants what she used to have. A driver’s license, the ability to read and knit and cook and travel. I imagine she wants to wear Ferragamos. Only yesterday we went through her closet, deciding what to keep and what to give away. She wants to keep it all. And there is no reason to take them from her. There will be a time to give it away. But not now.

She is 84 years old. She had a stroke two years ago, has difficulty speaking and has (just a little memory loss) early onset dementia. She easily walks four or five miles a day. She does exercise class sitting down, with a theraband and a ball.

She dipped the tag of a teabag into hot water. At lunch, she tried to eat her salad with her knife. When I asked if she would like another knife she looked at me, then the knife and we both fell into a fit of giggles.

She lives fully as she slowly slips away. Walking down the hallway her right foot scuffed. A bit later, closer to the stairways, it dragged slightly as I moved to catch her. She didn’t fall. She giggled and blamed her new khaki tennis shoes.

I knew I should have bought Mephisto’s


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