Daddy’s Shoes

My dad’s side of the closet was filled with shoes that reflected his love of life. He had his polished wingtips in which he had walked the pavement of many cities, office buildings, and textile plants at home and around the world. The golf shoes came out on weekends or any other day he could sneak to the course. If a Saturday came and he was not playing golf, he could be found wearing his mud-caked brogans and working in the showy flowerbeds that were the envy of the neighborhood. Dock siders were worn when the weather was good for fishing, and hunting boots were always dug out from under the pile when the hunting season began. In his earlier years, he also had his basketball high-tops, cleats for baseball then softball, and boating shoes for our many trips to the lake for a day of picnicking, skiing, and tubing.

But then the call came.  “Daddy went to the doctor today and they have found a spot on his lung.” I felt an awful weight come upon me and then the room began to spin. Everything around me felt different to the point I wondered if the earth just missed a rotation of its very axis.

In the months that followed, his side of the closet stayed full and disheveled with all different pairs of shoes, but some of them began to collect dust. The hunting boots were the first because after a June diagnosis the effects of chemo in the fall kept him from going on the once anticipated hunting trip with his buddies. He kept wearing his wingtips as he continued to work, however they no longer walked pavements around the world. As he grew weaker, they even covered less area of the parking lot pavement because a new sign was added outside the entrance that read “Mr. King’s Parking Spot.” Oh, he was forever the optimist—he tried to wear his brogans and keep the weeds out of his once pristine flowerbeds and he even carried his golf shoes to the course in an effort to play. Soon, those too began to collect dust from being placed aside.

We eventually bought him a new pair of slippers because his pair didn’t have enough traction and we were afraid he would fall as he shuffled down the hall where he once chased us as children to our bedrooms for a quick good night. This once healthy 6’3’’ man, who had traveled the world and enjoyed life to the fullest, was now wearing only his slippers.

It was a non-descript day in March when the van drove through our circular drive to deliver the hospital bed. He no longer wore any of the shoes that were his companions through the years. Now there were no shoes, only thick socks that kept his feet warm as they were gently placed on small white pillows the Hospice nurse brought to the house for his comfort.

The week before his death, I sat at the foot of his hospital bed and cradled his feet and thought of the scripture that reads “How beautiful are the feet of those that preach good news.” I knew that his feet were beautiful because through his pain and suffering he continued to share his testimony and the good news of Jesus Christ to his family and friends.

No shoes were needed as he passed from this life to eternal life. No shoes were needed as he slipped away from our whispers of “Daddy, we love you” to Jesus saying “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” No shoes were needed as his feeble cancer-ridden body was replaced with his new glorified body. His feet no longer needed the dust-collecting array of shoes in the closet by his hospital bed in his bedroom that spring night he died. I thought he was living life to the fullest considering all the shoes he collected, but now I realize that Daddy’s shoes were just a covering for his journey here on earth, for he had reached his final destination – heaven. Streets of gold, no shoes required.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Oh Beth this is beautiful, I am sitting here sobbing, but feeling comfort that your Dad and mine and rejoicing in heaven. Joyce, told me once that her and your Leland reminded her of my Dad, now that I have read your story, I know why.
    My Dad had lots of shoes,but the thing that stood out most was when I saw my Dad was the toes of is shoes always turn up on the toes when he took them off.
    The day we buried our precious father, I went into a bedroom and hugged my Dad shoes and sobbed my heart out!
    They both walked many miles in their shoes but I am sure the most important was when they walked up to us and called us Daddy’s girl.
    I know I will always be Daddy’s girl , nothing will ever replace that, but what a rejoicing day it will be when we can run back into their arms.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Cathy Fortune Slenski on December 13, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Your Daddy would be so proud of you, Bethie! For I know I am and so proud to be your Sisterrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! I love you more than you’ll ever know.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Wanda Ballew on December 17, 2009 at 4:17 am

    That is exactly the way mine happened. By the end of the first month he could not get around and losing weight so fast he was freezing. I went nuts buying anything I thought would keep him warm or going to health food stores for anything he could eat. I remember cheering over justa couple of bites. I only missed 2 days with him in the short six months. The monday before he died I was panicing and put him in a wheel chair and rolled him outside because he worked in the yard all day most days. I wanted him to see flowers, tulips and daffodils blooming. Debra told him I should bring him in and he said go cook me some eggs and we will be fine. The funny thing was he had not eat in over a week. I bent down beside his head and looking at the blue sky, flowers and his perfect green grass I said Daddy how could there be people that don’t believe in GOD. Look in this moment all we can see that he created and he hugged me and agreed and we sat there awhile just looking up and then he say take me for one last spin I pushed all around the house you know his drive goes all over. Then he said maybe we should go tell her she can have those eggs and that was our last laugh. That was Monday and Sat night I crawled up in his hospice house bed at Macalls and kissed on home for hours and sang Amazing Grace and I can only imagine then told him I am giving u enough kisses in case my fat but lived 30 years before I could kiss him again. I called them butterfly kisses and then he was gone. The first visit I made to the grave alone the next week was long before butterfly time. I was second week in March but a pretty yellow butterfly came right down to his grave and was gone in an instant. The Lord made me feel better by sending me that butterfly. We miss them but my father to good of a man to live like that. Everyday I pray to get alittle better but it has been over 18 months and it is still raw. I know where he is but I need atleast a call from him. Until we lose a parent we really don’t know real pain. You help me alot and I told my therapist today my old friends on FB have helped me so much. I Love You Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to Jesus

    Reply

  4. Posted by Doug Heuer on March 9, 2010 at 2:20 am

    Beth,

    A wonderful story, beautifully expressed. It resonates deeply for me. Our fathers must have a lot in common, particularly their faith and commitment to family. We are blessed to have had them in our lives.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Nicole on May 25, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    Absolutely beautiful, Beth.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Janice H on June 10, 2010 at 4:19 am

    Oh my goodness! I am so touched with this beautiful story! I have heard you talk about it for many months and know I was not supposed to read this until now. I could not have read it during the previous months. Your Daddy was a terrific “giant of a man”! Thank you for sharing such a special side of your experience through his illness. Your Mom also IS and ALWAYS will be PROUD of you and the special gift God has given to you in sharing these wonderful thoughts to encourage others!! I cannot wait to see what God is going to be doing through your writing!! I’ll always be your number ONE FAN!! Because I got your FIRST AUTOGRAPHED BUSINESS CARD!! haha!

    Reply

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