In Her Shoes
by: Joi Maree Flowers
As far back as I can remember, as a little girl, beginning around the age of two, my small sized feet would often find their way into my Mama's shoes; shoes that of course could not fit me at the time. Whether they were flats, sneakers, flip flops, or high heels, I put on every shoe she had. Those high heels of hers were my absolute favorite because when I would put them on, they would make me feel like I was being just like her when I stood tall in them.
|Joi Maree Flowers|
And though I loved her high heels, wearing them was always challenging. I could only stand in them for a minute before my balance gave up on me, leading me to collapse; and every time when I tried to walk in them, I would take about two steps and without fail, tumble to the ground. Mama would laugh and while picking me up would say,"Don't worry baby. You'll be able to walk in them one day." I asked "When?" and she just replied, "One day baby, one day."
I thought that "one day" would be when I grew up to be an adult like she; but I would later find out in my adult life that walking in her shoes would take on a whole other meaning than that of the literal. Mama's shoes were more than just shoes; their worn wear told the story of the journey that she walked in them.
It began with the mornings which were always early. Starting around 5 am with prayer, meditation, showering, ironing clothes, getting dressed, then making breakfast; all done before I was awakened. Then she would prepare me for the day once she got me up. After dropping me off at school, she would make her way to a job that she did not enjoy going to. This I knew because she often expressed her dislike of it. However, she endured so we as a family would not go without.
The evenings were always better. School was over and work was done, well her 9 to 5 at least. We would go home and have "our time". She would cook and let me assist her with preparing our meal,
help me complete my homework, have me bathe, and then we'd watch a little TV before she led me off to bed. We shared a lot of fun and laughs. That's just how we were and we loved every moment of it.
And then there were the nights, those many nights when often her slumber was deprived as she sat in her room planning the next day. Sometimes when I would get up to use the bathroom, I'd notice the light coming from under her bedroom door. I would sit by her closed door with my ear pressed against it, and I would hear her crying, all the while wondering why. I would either walk away and go back to bed or knock on the door and she would answer the door with a smile so I could come in, with no sign of the cry on her face that I'd just heard shortly before.
Mama, my strong Mama, who made life seem so bright and joyful in my eyes, I found out walked a very rugged road of life's path so that I wouldn't. From 'robbing Peter to pay Paul,' to borrowing sugar from the neighbor next door so we could at least make kool-aid to drink, to walking to and from her destinations when there was no car to be driven, and then the times when paying a light bill meant using a bag full of pennies. She did what she had and needed to do. Though sometimes burdened and ashamed, as she later recounted how she'd felt, she never did let me witness with my eyes the true depth of her pain.
She sometimes had to wear shoes with holes in the soles and the same outfit three times in one week because it was all she had and could afford. I, her only child, was her priority and responsibility to provide for first, and then herself, if only there was some change left. As I grew older, I began to see through her eyes her struggles; struggles that made me appreciate the woman who God gave me to call Mama.
A woman of strength, faith, courage, and love, Mama was, and still is. A perfect role model for me to emulate; and an example of the role model I hope to become for the daughter that I'll one day be blessed with. Never could I have imagined that a journey such as hers could be walked and the struggles that were put up against her overcame. It took great endurance to walk a path with so many uncertain yesterdays to be able to arrive at the door of today's joy. I am proud to say that my Mama made it through.
The other day, I put on a pair of my Mama's shoes and finally my feet fit in them perfectly. Admiring my reflection in the mirror as I stood in those high heels that I always adored as a child and could now wear, I remembered Mama, that strong woman who stood in them, and the distant journey they'd been walked in. And I heard her words, "Don't worry baby. You'll be able to walk in them one day" in my ear. A tear ran down my face. I took off her shoes and placed them back in her closet and while walking away, I found myself speaking her long ago replies to my constant questions of "When?...," "One day baby, one day." I now know what she meant as that "one day" that has still yet to come will one day arrive for me. Although her shoes fit my feet now, I have a long way to go before I can stand and walk in them.
|Every little girl hopes to one day walk in her Mother's shoes.|