Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Good-bye Sole Mates

There is nothing more important to me than a good pair of shoes. Especially if they fit. I have been blessed (cursed?) with duck feet (some would say that’s why I’m named Donald—don’t you dare go there!). I usually need to go a half size larger than my foot length in order to accommodate my wide feet. That results in tight sides with floppy fronts. To find a perfect fit is nearly impossible, but when I do, I wear those shoes into the ground. Literally.

I had such a pair of shoes. I wore them for two years and eight months. They weren’t the prettiest shoes or most fashionable I’d ever owned, but they functioned quite well. They were casual enough that I could wear them to my office and to the coffee shop. Often those were the same place. They were formal enough that I wore them to my son’s wedding. Who knew?

They were slip-ons. I could wait till the last minute to get into them before going out the door. I could easily slip them off when I wanted to prop my feet up. They required little to no maintenance. Because of the rough surface, they didn’t scuff much, and a good polish every month kept them looking like new.

Sole Mates. Old on the left, new on right.
These shoes nursed my arthritic knees through their most painful days. They also accompanied me to the hospital where I had double knee replacement surgery and followed my new knees home again. They were faithful companions during my three-month long recuperation.

These shoes accompanied me to Guatemala and Mexico. They walked the streets of Guatemala City, Antigua, Chichicastenango, and along the shores of Lago Atlitlán. They walked the streets of Puebla, Cholula and Mexico City and visited numerous museums and cultural events.

These shoes took me to the cities of Zurich, Zermatt, Interlaken, Bern, and Basel, to name a few. They walked along the banks of the Aare River and trudged on alpine mountain roads and took me to lake-side celebrations. They visited barns and palaces. They traveled on cable cars, cog-wheeled trains, double-decker trains, planes and boats.

These shoes attended small churches, mega churches, big city churches, extremely rural churches and a few Bible studies. They attended six weddings. They preached in four pulpits. They worshiped in English, Spanish, Q’eqchi, Kaqchikel and Swiss German. They taught in innumerable classrooms before hundreds of eager-eyed learners and some not so eager.

Unfortunately, I had to put these wonderful companions, my sole mates, to rest. As I was walking along a gravel alpine path several weeks ago, I noticed some of the little stones were penetrating into my foot. I realized that I had walked the sole bare. Probably had walked nearly 1,000 miles in them. The sad day had arrived. The shoes that had fit me like a glove and had journeyed with me to so many places had to be put aside.

After a vain search for the same shoe in local stores, I scoured the Internet for the brand and model I wanted to replace my sole mates. They were no where to be found. I tried every combination of possibilities on dozens of shoe websites. Finally I came across the brand and model I was looking for. It wasn’t exactly the same model as my retired shoes, but close enough.

The new shoes came today. Eagerly I opened the box. The fit was pretty good, and the look better than I expected, but I couldn’t slip them on without a shoe horn. They were a bit tight at the duck-foot edges and snug because of my high arches, but I knew they would stretch as I wore them. I will miss my old pals. I will probably even put them on again for nostalgia and needed comfort. But I need to give the new pair a fair trial before I abandon them. Will they succeed like their brother?

Where will this new set of shoes take me if I finally adopt them as my new sole mates? If anywhere near as wonderful a ride as the last pair, I’m in for a delightful road ahead
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