Sunday, March 30, 2008

Walk a Mile in My Skechers

I usually don’t look at the J C Penney One Day Only sales because I can almost always find a “must have” item, usually shoes. I am especially susceptible to buy-one-and-get-one-half-price shoe sales. Can you believe one of those sales was going on today? Wouldn’t you know they had a picture of a pair of white Skechers similar to the two black pair and burgundy ones I own and love?

So, like a true shoeaholic, I entered Penney’s holding my four-year-old granddaughter’s hand. After a cursory look at clothing, we meandered to the shoe department. On prominent display was not just ONE pair of Sketchers different from the ones I had, but FOUR.

“I would like to try these, these, these, and these,” I told the sales clerk.

While the clerk searched the storeroom for the shoes in my size, my granddaughter selected a pair of pink house slippers with a fluff of fur and Disney princesses on the toes.

We found a bench to try on our shoes. I slipped off the burgundy Skechers I was wearing to try on the natural colored pair with a lacy pattern. “The mirror is over there,” the sales clerk said.

“Those look cool with your black socks, Grandma Linda!” My granddaughter said with the enthusiasm of the very young. She pronounced the white pair with mesh ventilation and the black lacy pair as “Cool!”

I tried on a shiny brocade shoe with a water lily design, and my granddaughter said, “Those are precious, Grandma Linda!” She smiled at me, her face lit with joy, a beautiful child in a pink glitzy shirt, with silky blonde hair held back in with a poofy pink bow. I felt a pang that because of Jim’s dementia, he never had the opportunity to share these happy moments with his grandchildren.

Sometimes when I was immersed in the daily responsibilities of caregiving, I felt my joy had been stolen. When someone who had never taken care of a person with dementia offered simplistic views or started a sentence with “If I were you,” I knew that even if they walked a mile in my shoes, they could not begin to grasp the heartbreak of being a caregiver.

Yet, love for my family made me realize that life goes on, and many, many happy moments are yet to come. The sales clerk and I smiled at the Skechers being described as “precious.”

“OK, precious or cool? I’m only buying two pair. You are my fashion consultant, and I want to know which two pair to buy.”

Without the slightest hesitation, she pointed to the white mesh pair, “Those, and,” pointing to the natural pair, “those.”

“Not the precious ones?” I asked, running my fingers along the silky finish of the shoes.

“No. The cool ones.” Well grandmas want to be cool.

I left the store with a bulging bag of shoes and could easily walk a mile in my cool pair of Skechers along a path where moments of joy pop up like wildflowers to remind me how precious life is.

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