The Saddle Shoes by Lynn Brown-Poole
As the cold winds of November bore down on us and the clouds became dark and heavy, I, the person who loves to be outdoors, became quite content to remain inside. This was the month that I would whittle away at my “to do” list. The month that I would go through all my closets and cupboards. I’d look for items never used, or overused, for expiry dates. It was when I started digging through my shoes that I suddenly remembered the day I went shoe shopping with my mom.
It was Saturday, June 30, 1962. You may wonder, how could I remember that exact date. Stay with me and you’ll discover why.
On that day my mother told me that she and I were going to the mall. I was surprised and thrilled. We arrived at Dorval Gardens and started walking along the sidewalk passing by Morgan’s, Laura Secord, Woolworths and finally stopping in front of the Buster Brown Shoe store. “Let’s go in.” my mom said.
I recall tingling with hope. Hope that I would get a new pair of shoes. How I loved shoes.
I followed my mom as she walked along carefully examining each shoe sample. There were the sensible brown oxfords which was usually what I ended up with, the patent shoes for special occasions, the billy-boots for rainy days and then at the end of the row a variety of saddle shoes.
My 9-year-old mind rationalized that saddle shoes were certainly more fashionable than brown oxfords and could be worn every day rather than just on special occasions. A sensible purchase. I held my breath and only exhaled when mom said. “Let’s try a pair on you.” The sales lady measured my feet for length and width and then brought out several boxes of different styled saddle shoes. We finally agreed on the best fitted shoes. They weren’t the clunker-style big black and white round-toed saddle shoes. Oh no! These were the streamlined, narrow-toe, slim-style, dark blue and white saddle shoes. I felt so grown up, like I was 13 years old!
“Can I wear them to church tomorrow?” I asked my mom. She agreed.
That evening as bedtime approached, I laid out my clothes for church and carefully placed my shoes nearby. I kept looking at them as if to make sure they were mine. I could not wait to wear them. I crawled into bed. The faster I fell asleep; the sooner Sunday would arrive. I called out to my mom to come kiss me goodnight. She was tired and was already in bed, so she asked me to go kiss her. I did.
The next morning, well before the sun had risen, I woke up to the shouts of my dad calling out my mother’s name. He rushed to the phone, dialed a number, spoke French. I wasn’t sure what he was saying. He hung up, dialed another number, spoke English. “Father McMahon?” he said.
At that moment, I don’t know how I knew, but I knew. My mom was gone, she had passed away. I got out of bed. I looked at my shoes, my last happy memory shared with my mom.