Tag Archive | marriage

Good Shoes

She just wants nice shoes.  Black, size 8, and pretty.  That’s all she wants.

“Nice shoes for church this  Easter Sunday,” she tells her husband.

So out he goes, stopping at the first shoe store in town he sees.  This one has red for sale signs in the windows.  He walks up and down the aisles of tall shelves lined with boxes until he finds her size.  The women around him are standing before the mirrors, looking down at the reflections of their outstretched feet. He pardons himself as he walks between them and their mirrors.

It doesn’t take long before he finds what seems like the perfect pair.  He carries the box over to the counter.  “I wish my husband would shoe shop for me,” says the friendly woman at the register. “What a lucky lady!”

He nods shyly, thanks her and leaves the store.

When he gets home, his wife is sitting in her wheelchair, just as she was when he’d left her.  Pillows propped on each side of her body help to keep her upright. She asks if he’d had any trouble. “No, and they were cheap too,”  he says with a smirk.

As he takes them out of the box, he reminds her that they aren’t anything fancy. She waves her hand at him, telling him he knows she doesn’t care about those sorts of things.  He opens up the box and spreads the white tissue paper apart like a curtain, revealing a surprise. He pulls out just one black dress shoe, smooth and shiny with a flat heel, and slightly pointed in the front. She smiles and tells him they’re great.

He kneels down uncomfortably on one knee before her. He lifts one of her thin – but very heavy – calves toward him.   While holding her heel with one hand, he uses his other hand to gently rock the new shoe back and forth until it finally comes to rest over her hard, still foot.  She smiles, and he hears relief in her voice when she says it fits.

He stands up and looks her over. She’s trying to turn her foot towards her eyes –  just like the women in the store were.  But she can’t.  And, unlike those worn by the women in the store, he knows that these shoes his wife is wearing will never even touch the ground.

“I can’t wait until Sunday,” she says, her eyes on her new shoe.

“I know,” he says thoughtfully as he collects the tissue paper and box.  “It’ll be a good day…”

A moment in time between my Mother and Father, teenage sweethearts. My Mother passed away from complications from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at the age of 46. My Father was her full-time caregiver, as her illness robbed her of the ability to walk or care for herself at all. The love between them was extraordinary and rare. 

One Last Moment

She’s gone.

He knows. No breath. No movement.

He’d lifted her from her chair to the floor when he’d found her, placing the blanket beside her that had covered her as she’d slept. When he’d set her down, he’d heard the huff of her final exhale leave her body.

He feels himself slip away from this world and enter a place he’s never been before.  He sways as he looks down on her. Her head is turned to one side. Her thinning brown hair is pressed against the side of her still beautiful face. Dressed in one of his t-shirts, her legs are bent in the same position they were when she’d fallen asleep the evening before.

Maybe she’s just- and he pushes his hands against her shoulder.

No movement.

He runs his rough fingers through his graying hair and looks about the darkened room. Everyone’s coming, he says out loud. But no one can hear him.

His daughters – their daughters – come through the front door and enter the room. Cold air follows them and sunlight spills in, but disappears quickly when the door closes. There is wailing and shuddering, and they take turns huddling over her.  They speak to her in shrill cries. I love you, Mommy, they say.

But she does not reply.

One daughter shakily pulls out lip balm.  She trembles as she smears the lotion across her mother’s lips.

A car arrives outside and he tells his daughter’s it’s time.  They stumble about the room silently, wiping the tears from their chins.

The strangers are ready to take her, so he moves away from his wife.

Wait – he whispers to them.  They step back respectfully.

He kneels down beside her again and covers her bare legs with the blanket.  As he leans in close to her face, he is once again alone with her.  He hears nothing except the beating of his own heart.  Betty, he whispers, stroking the hair away from her peaceful face.  She’s the fifteen year old girl he’d met when he was just seventeen…When she became a woman, he became a man…When she became a mother, he became a father…

When her illness seemed to steal everything from her – her ability to walk, to feed, to bathe herself – there was a constant between them: the truest love they’d each ever known.

And while he knew this moment would come, where she would leave this world, he is not ready to let her go.  He feels a panic arise in his chest.

Betty, he whispers again, placing his hand on her cold cheek.  He finds her left hand and lifts it close to him. He purses his lips, not wanting to do this, not ready to do this.  He grips the small gold wedding band from her finger, twisting it slowly as it makes its way off and into his calloused hand.  He places her hand gently at her side and stands up quickly.

It’s done, he thinks. He gives the strangers a nod, and they move in towards her.

His daughter’s, their heads down, make their way outside. Suddenly, as his girls disappear outside and out of his sight, he stops.  He opens up his fist and looks thoughtfully at the ring in his palm. Slowly, he lifts it and slides it over his pinky finger.

Knowing he cannot turn back, he walks towards the cold air coming through the wide open door, and he heads out into the sunlight.

Mom and Dad. They would’ve been together for almost 40 years now. Mom lost her battle with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) seven years ago at the age of 46. …Thank you for reading…