“Talk to her,” her exasperated daughter said. “She’s totally unreasonable!”
I tentatively knocked on her door. Inside I could hear her. Unreasonable? No. Inconsolable? Yes. I sat by her bed and listened to her sob. Finally, there was a break in her cries.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“They even gave away my red shoes!” she blurts out. The sobs returned.
This sweet little lady had just come to the nursing facility where I worked. She was recovering from a devastating stroke that left her immobile. Her well-meaning daughters had cleared out her house and given most of her things to charity. They had given her little choice in what to keep. Instead of saving her the heartache of decisions, they had unknowingly triggered this immense grief.
When the sobs subsided, I said, “Tell me about the red shoes.”
“They were my dancing shoes.” Her eyes got that far-off look.
“Do you like to dance?”
“I loved to dance. I met my husband at a dance. Whirling dresses. Clicking heels. The thrill of being twirled around.” She smiled for the first time since she had arrived.
“Did you dance often?”
“We went dancing every weekend. Well , that is until the babies came. Then we couldn’t go because they needed us. When they grew up, we started dancing again. Down at the VFW Hall. Big band, ballroom, we loved it all.” She paused. She took a breath. “I haven’t danced since Al died. That was eight years ago.” Tears started to fill her eyes.
“And the red shoes?”
“I wore them the last time we danced. I was still beautiful when I wore them. “ Her voice trailed off.
We sat in silence.
Then, angrily “I hate getting old!” More quietly, she said, “I’ll always be old.”
“They gave away my red shoes.
I’ll never dance again.
I’ll always be old.”
picture by jeltvoski, morguefile.com
edited to add: I am humbled that this was judged as an honorable mention piece. It is a story close to my heart. I am thrilled it touched so many of you. Blessings!