Thursday, May 15, 2008

They Gave Away My Red Shoes

This is a story I have been writing for a long time. The May writing contest at Scribbit's place encouraged me to finish it. Here is my entry.


“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,

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!
The Write-Away Contest hosted by Scribbit


~V said...

such emotion in a short piece. Bravo!

Tami Boesiger said...

I love this, MiPa. It clearly illustrates the pain of aging and the need for sensitivity for our elders. Nice job.

Grafted Branch@Restoring the Years said...

Heart quieted; eyes welling.

Well done.

Scribbit said...

I just wait for posts like this to come in--there's always one or two that really speak out and make me thrilled about the contest. Well done.

Robin said...

Your piece moved me to tears.

An excellent piece of writing, I look forward to reading more.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I've actually seen this happen to several elderly people. It is sad when people don't stop to think that many times the elderly only have their memories to cling to, and to toss them away without thinking is so sad.

This was a lovely way to put it in words.

Sarah said...

incredibly sad but beautifully written...

Phyllis Sommer said...

beautifully done. what heartbreak.

MiaKatia said...

Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your experience. Thanks also for reading my post.

Story Girl said...

This is a beautiful piece. I have a lump in my throat! Thank you for sharing this story.

Alice Wills Gold said...

Oh, I just LOVE old people...the stories they have to tell.

This one made me cry. Thanks for a good reminder to live in the moment. I am going to wear my red sandals this Sunday just in her honor.

Daisy said...

So sad! We're helping my inlaws downsize from their home to a condo. This reminds me to always consider their memories and their feelings.