Claiming My Slippers

 “The key to your happiness is to own your slippers, own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don’t. If you keep saying your slippers aren’t yours, then you’ll die searching, you’ll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more.”  From Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

I love finding a sentence or paragraph in a book that requires me to stop and relish the words. It’s even better if the phrase sends my mind down a rabbit path chasing an idea. This quote brought up one of my favorite subjects – shoes. There are some slippers I don’t own. There are no dancing shoes – not because of Mama’s Baptist ban on dancing but because I’ve discovered both my feet are lefts. There are no shoes for an art studio, nor any for singing arias at the opera. I find I hardly miss these shoes when I open the closet and see my own.

• My walkers take me for a couple of turns at the mall nearly every morning and up and down my steep hill twice daily. These aren’t my favorite shoes unless I concentrate on their benefit to my health and longevity.
• My Grasshoppers with holes where there used to be laces are just right for pruning shrubs that have grown too big for their spaces, digging holes for new plants, and raking pine straw to keep down weeds and border flower beds. They’re too worn for me to care about their filth or remember their original color.

• My white sandals reveal coral toenails that peek out beneath my swirling skirt. They match my mood as I serve as docent of the day for the Golden Kite Golden Dreams Exhibit featuring thirty-five years of award-winning children’s book illustrations at the local art gallery. What fun to answer the second and third graders’ eager questions about the art they’re seeing!

• The silver slippers go with my hot pink silver-threaded dress to celebrate a Golden Anniversary. In attendance were my extended family including all my children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. They joined friends new and old, from near and far, including Internationals who snapped pictures to send back to China.

• My Sunday red patent leathers take me to choir where we sing “Hear, me. Hear, me. Hear me, Redeemer. Send down your love to cleanse my soul.”

• The professional pumps go to meetings where I speak about teaching children, about writing, about life, about …

• And my new white Keds accompany my denim suit on a plane to visit grandchildren, to see the fifty states, to travel for business or just for fun.

Who knew I would wind up with a closet so full of shoes or that I would love wearing them? This life exceeds expectations for a shy pig-tailed girl who grew up in North Mississippi – waiting for warm weather so she could run barefoot – shoeless and free across newly mown grass, through shaded woods, and down slippery red clay banks. I think I shan’t die searching and bitter, feeling I was promised more.