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A small sacrifice
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I have always had a thing about shoes.

Starting at an early age, I found them to be one of the most incredible things in the world.

Even when I was a toddler, I loved my little black patent leather Mary Janes.

Mama's heels were always fascinating, even though she didn't wear them often. She has always preferred comfort over appearance.

"You must get your love of shoes from Granny," Mama said once when I begged for yet another pair. "If I have one good pair and some house shoes, I am fine."

Granny did like shoes. Maybe it was because Granny liked to dress up, something Mama never cared for either. Again, comfort overruled appearance and if Mama had to put on a slip and hose, she'd just as soon not go.

Granny was partly to blame for my fascination with shoes.

When I was little, she introduced me to Marilyn's Shoe Store in Athens.

Unlike the Pic ‘N Pay of my hometown, Marilyn's didn't have knock-off's of Nike called Cuga's or buy-one, get-one free deals.

No, Marilyn's was a real shoe store, complete with employees who would measure your feet to make sure you got the correct size.

I think they sold hats as well, but Granny, being proud of her lustrous curls, never cared for a hat.

Usually, our visits were in the fall, after we dropped my grandfather and uncle off at a UGA football game.

Granny and I would pass the time going to lunch and window shopping downtown, but on a few occasions, Granny had the money to go into Marilyn's.

Most of the time we stood outside the big glass storefront and ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the pretty shoes.

"One day, I am going to have high heels in every color of the rainbow," she exclaimed breathlessly as she peered in the window.

She couldn't get too high of a heel. She was already taller than my grandfather so if she wore anything higher than two inches, she'd really towered over him.

As I gazed into the window, I could see why she coveted those shoes. With their straps, heels, toe vamps and more, they were visions of wearable beauty.

A few weeks later, Granny decided she had saved up enough money for a pair of dark blue heels.

Since she had eloped with Pop in a blue dress, she had several as he would buy her one every year for their anniversary.

Off to Marilyn's we went that weekend, Granny hoping they had a pair of dark blue shoes in her size.

"I have been wanting a pair of blue shoes for the longest. I hate wearing black heels with blue," she told me. "They had a pair a while back but they were kind of expensive - it would be a week's worth of groceries if I had gotten ‘em and we all like to eat. So I hope they still have them."

Granny only made about $50 a week at the sewing plant but she could stretch it to get groceries, pay a bill and even get me a new stuffed animal or toy every week.

When we got to that sacred store, Granny hopefully searched the displays in search of a pair of dark blue heels.

While she did her own search, I had found true love with a pair of shoes myself.

They were a children's shoe but they were burgundy with a low wedge heel and I had never seen anything like them before. Usually children's shoe fashions of the late 70's were more atrocious than the shag carpet and both were probably made from the same material.

But these were lovely. Oh, so lovely.

The employee had finished fitting Granny with her shoes and she was about to ring her up when Granny realized I was not by her side.

"Sug?" she called from the other side of the store.

I didn't respond, standing there holding those shoes as tenderly as I would a kitten.

I didn't ask for them either - I knew Granny just had enough for the shoes she wanted and needed.

But I didn't have to.

"Bring them here," Granny instructed.

I walked them to the counter and Granny asked how much they were, shocked to find out they were almost as much as hers.

"They as much as a grown person's shoes," she mumbled under her breath. "You know dang good and well they ain't got as much leather in them as a grown person's does."

She looked at the shoes I held and the ones she wanted. She knew she didn't have enough for both. Granny gently slid her pair back towards the employee and said she was getting the children's shoes instead.

"No, Granny," I protested.

She shook her head. "I'll get me a pair of dark blue shoes later on. You need some new shoes anyway."

That small sacrifice ingrained in me how selfless love could be.

And a deep love for good shoes.


Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the novel, "The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery."

 

 

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