I was given a series of sweet gifts this past Friday. I’d gladly show you a picture, but it’s absolutely impossible for an amateur like me to photograph the collection of intangible, heart-brimming experiences that I had. I can only paint a picture with my words, and even they may not be bright enough to express my feelings.
Friday afternoon, I went shoe shopping. Now, before you roll your eyes and think that this flat-footed fifty-year-old is going to share with you a shallow tale of Manolo Blahnik’s or Louboutin’s ripe for the picking, think again. It wasn’t what I found in the store that made my heart sing and my eyes well with tears, it was who I was with and the circumstances of our shopping. I helped my best friend take her elderly mother shopping for winter shoes. While that may sound tedious to some, it was a new experience for me and I held it with an elevated wonder.
I’ve known my best friend’s mom, “Carole*,” since I was 18. She was once a very independent widow who raised five children on her own while serving tirelessly in her profession as an obstetric nurse. She’s now in her late 70s and suffers from dementia. Though this dysfunction has robbed her of her short term memory, and causes her to be easily confused, it hasn’t taken away the essence of her personality. Her keen sense of humor is boldly intact, as is her kind and grateful nature.
I was a bit anxious taking the both of them. Between my best friend’s traumatic brain injury, her mom’s dementia, and my terrible sense of direction when it comes to navigating in the city, things could have easily gotten chaotic. I called the shoe store ahead of time to inquire about parking (I didn’t want Carole to have to walk far in the cold) and restrooms (essential for young and old). I also consulted Siri to guide me on the best route. My fears were quickly put to rest, as our drive was smooth, with even the serendipitous occasion of a truck blocking oncoming traffic as I helped Carole out of the car and onto a safe sidewalk. A dear associate named Dana carefully measured Carole’s feet and patiently guided her in finding everyday leather shoes, sneakers, snow boots and slippers. All the while it was evident by her wide smile and glistening eyes that Carole was thoroughly enjoying being pampered and fussed over. Repeatedly she told us all, “You all are really spoiling me!”
After shoe shopping, there was lunch. An offer was made for a fancy Italian place, but Carole insisted that she wanted a chicken sandwich from a fast food establishment. Fortunately, there were healthy salads for my friend and I. After lunch, we drove back to my friend’s house for some cozy fire-side viewing of old episodes of “Murder She Wrote.” When it was evident that Carole was getting sleepy, we headed back to her house. My friend prepared her dinner and we sat with her as she ate and waited for her evening caregiver to arrive.
As I drove back to my house in the early twilight, tears welled in my eyes as I mentally listed all of the little blessings that I’d encountered. while shoe shopping.
- The store we visited was where my own mother and I had shopped throughout my childhood, Everything from my first pair of baby shoes to the Bass penny loafers that I went off to college in, were purchased there.
- The gift of the truck that held up traffic long enough for me to get Carole out of the car safely.
- A dog named Molly who greeted me as we exited the shoe store (Molly was the name of the last dog we had when I still lived at home.)
- My best friend’s face bright with love and contentment as she cared for her mother.
- Carole enjoying being “spoiled” and listening to her gratefully praise my best friend throughout the day.
- The sleepy warmth of the fireplace and the nostalgia of an old TV show that I’d long ago watched with my own mother.
- My best friend sharing her mother with me for the day; giving me a glimpse of the pleasure associated with caring for the person who had once so tirelessly cared for her.
- Feeling the glow of my own mom’s spirit so near to mine.
All in all it was a perfect day; a shoe shopping trip that was a little less about the fabulous finds on the store shelves and a lot more about the awesome discoveries in my heart.
When have you found unexpected joy in a simple event? Tell me about it! 🙂
* Names have been changed.