Shoes can be one of two things...functional or fashionable...I've never quite found a pair that completely encompassed both. Having been born the fourth child to Marlene, in a family of eight children and the third daughter in a succession of two older sisters and one brother, I assure you ... I felt the desire to "fill the shoes" of my older siblings, most especially my sisters! Stylistically speaking, my sister's shoes were as diverse as their personalities: Angie wore the black, glammed-up, high-as-the-sky, rock-n-roll stilettos. Lora donned the horse-hair-covered, motorcycle-oil-stained, real leather cowboy boots and would only remove those to put on her dust-covered softball cleats. Needless to say, these two girls were my role models and I wanted to be just like them!
As time moved on and my personality started to develop, I realized that the cowboy boots represented a physical and emotional strength that I did not possess and the boots themselves, did not have enough GLITTER for my taste. While I desperately loved the stilettos, the idea of being noticed all day for my fashionable shoes and not obtaining the bigger-than-life personality of Angie to balance the style of those shoes, I came to terms with trying to find a better "fit." Try as I might, the shoes my sisters found themselves so comfortable in, were not what I found comfortable for myself. It wasn't until I became a Mother that I recognized the shoes I hoped to fill!
I remember distinctly the first hour, that first night, at home...post-first-baby! I tried desperately to soothe and comfort my firstborn while trying to soothe and comfort myself. My awkward first steps into the role of Motherhood instantly deepened my appreciation for all that my Mother had done for me. The thought, "How did my Mother survive delivering eight children" came to mind several times that night. With the overwhelming feeling of the responsibility for my baby's well-being, a very recent 12 hours of labor performed, one sleepless-night-of-a-hospital-stay...I was at my wits end and did the only thing a self-persevering new Mother could do...I sent an S.O.S. call to my Mom!
Within 20 minutes, at approximately 4:30 a.m., my Mother arrived at my home! She marched in with a confidence and understanding of the situation that would make even Patton, follow her lead! Like a breath of fresh-air, she hugged me, took the baby to the nursery to re-diaper him (what Mom...duct tape isn't an effective diaper fastener) and gently persuaded me to get a shower and nap! As I awakened three hours later, I found my surroundings quite changed. to the quiet and sweet serenity of a sleeping baby, the beginning aroma of a well-seasoned crock-pot full of dinner and my husband happily engaged in conversation with my Earth Angel Mother! After two hours with my Mother in our once-frazzled home, balance and order had returned...and I felt...at peace with my Mother there! I sat watching my Domestic-Goddess-of-a-Mother, in awe, hoping to someday fill my Mother's shoes!
Years passed and I recognized the grace with which my Mom edified the role of Mother by becoming a GRANDMOTHER! Oh how she LOVES her grandchildren...in fact, I am convinced that my Mother had room enough in her heart to love her grandchildren MORE THAN her own children! To watch my Mother with her grandchildren was to know unconditional love: her uncanny ability to sense when they needed her tender-loving-care, the ease with which she engaged in acrobatic child's play and games (I'm absolutely certain she sustained bruising from several of those games) and her unmatched talent in making each and every one feel special and important...all talents that made her presence invaluable to her children and grandchildren alike!
Had my Mother been like "Randy" in the Holiday Movie favorite "Christmas Story"and "lay there like a slug" and done nothing for us ... perhaps it would have been a little easier for us to accept her very recent "summa cum laude" graduation into the spirit world!
As everyone in my home, including her adored grandchildren, were recently shocked with the news of my Mother's passing...we reflected on this saying:
"to the world she may have been one person...but to us, she was the world!"
She encompassed all the beauty and compassion of everything good in the world and we felt at peace whenever she was near. In the future, when times become difficult without her and the reminder of her absence is too much to bear...I plan to grab the pair of my Mother's black shoes that inherited and stand in them for as long as I need. I know my Mother could do hard things and as the sole's of my feet stand in her well-lived shoes, I will long to feel the strength of her compassionate soul and the peace of knowing she is with me!
One of the possessions I now hold most dear, are the well-lived in shoes of my Mother.
Love you Mom!