Monday, October 27, 2008

If the Shoe Fits

My wife creates exquisite paper shoes. When she’s finished with them, they look like this:



I have a pair of shoes I wear for outdoor work. Like a beat-up truck or an old hound dog, they’ve been around a while. They look like this:

I refer to them as durable and faithful. My wife calls them a disgrace.

In their defense, these never-say-die troopers are probably 10 years old. They began as spiffy new Rockport office shoes. After a couple of years, they retired into casual wear. Finally, in their twilight years, when most shoes would have laced their last, they rose to the occasion and became the Work Shoes.

They’ve been stepped on and scratched and crushed and bent all out of shape helping me move our home six or seven times. They protected my feet while I scraped 50-year-old petrified carpet pad from the floors of our first house. And they’ve kept the grime and the thorns and the bugs from tormenting my toes while I pulled weeds and dug holes and planted flowers a thousand different times. They’ve helped me stomp through rivers and shovel mountains of nitrolized sawdust around my property. At the end of a long hard work day, they’ve endured countless poundings to dislodge the dirt clods, and umpteen hosings off to remove what was left. They’ve spent endless hot hours drying in the sun, and many a long lonely night out in the cold. But like the Every Ready battery, they keep going and going . . . and they’re always there for me. Much to my wife’s chagrin.

So I say that, like the velveteen rabbit, they’ve transformed from a simple pair of shoes into beloved companions, worthy of honor and respect.

My wife says that, like Old Yeller, they’ve gone bad and need to be put out of their misery. Or at least hers.

Outrageous, I say. Just as the exquisite appearance of her paper shoes reflect the pinnacle of high class and artistic elegance, so the Work Shoes reflect the classic attributes of dedication, hard work and self sacrifice.

Besides, after 13 straight hours, I bet they’re a lot more comfortable than heels.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Candelabra

The word itself is delightful, conjuring up images of romantic Italy and exotic Spain.

In my mind, it’s always the center of a peaceful night time scene, where friends share favorite old stories, and lovers share just-between-us dreams.

In my home, it gently slows my pace, and I discover that I no longer talk, but only whisper.

Like a midnight snowfall, it gently quiets the world and makes time stand still.

One evening my wife hosted my parents for dinner. To our finest tableware, flower bouquets, and simple music, she added a special touch. My father sensed something was different. Tea lights flickered on tabletops, votives glowed behind colored glass, and a simple candelabra illuminated the ceiling. His eyes grew wide as he realized there was no electric light. “It’s beautiful,” he told us. Nearly 10 years later, that memory still makes us smile. With his recent passing, that memory is one of our most treasured.

Last Christmas, my wife greeted my gift with tears of delight: a pair of matching candelabras. For our new home someday, I promised. She’s already put them up.

A lighted candelabra always blends my memories of what has been with my dreams of what’s to come. It reminds me of who I’m from and who I’m with, of what I’ve been given and what I have now. In my busy scattered moments, it quietly catches my eye and reminds me of who I am.