Pearl Watley Mitchell

© Copyright 2009 by Pearl Watley Mitchell

Photo of women's shoes.  (c) 2006 Pearl Mitchell

Shoes have been a major thorn in my side all my life. I think it's been a problem since I emerged from my Mama’s womb. Actually, that’s the way things should be. Human beings need to and are expected to wear shoes. But, in my case, shoes just won’t stay on my feet. I remember when I was a little girl in the country, five or six years old. I only had one pair of shoes then. I used to hide my shoes so that I could go to church barefooted. It was very rare for me to even put on a pair of shoes.

Before Pete, my dear husband, died at an early 49 years old, during our thirty years together, he did everything possible to help me keep shoes on my feet. Several times Pete and I were going out to eat and ended up in a drive-thru with fast food because my shoes weren’t in the car where I thought they were. I couldn’t go in. Mostly, he was not happy about the last minute changes.

For thirty years, the last word he would say to me when I started to get into the car was always, “Pearl, do you have your shoes?” Finally, he got frustrated and shouted at me, “Why should I buy you a pair of shoes? You wear them out toting them around. You should have been born back in caveman days and you wouldn’t have had to wear shoes anyway.”

Since my children got married, they usually make a trip to my house at least every couple of weeks to return all my shoes that I have left at their house. When I almost run out of shoes or get down to one pair, I make a trip to their houses to gather up my shoes.

I retired from teaching two years ago, and most of my life I’ve had two jobs. Several times over the years I’ve gotten to school or to my destination, and didn’t have shoes in the car. Many times I had to go back home to get my shoes.

A couple of years ago, I went down in the country to my son’s family’s church to visit. I got there early on Sunday night and no one was there yet. I promise you, I really can’t drive with shoes on, so I didn’t have them on. I pulled into the parking lot, picked up my shoes from the floorboard, dropped them out on the pavement, and started to stick my feet into them. Then I decided that since no one was there yet, I would go down the road to a store and get a soda. I shut the door and drove off with my shoes still sitting there in the middle of an empty parking lot. My son and his family drove up a few minutes later and my daughter-in-law saw my shoes. She looked at my son and stated confidently, “Well, your Mom has been here. She left her tracks. There are her shoes.”

Since Pete died I have completed twenty-one mission trips to South America, and a few in the states. When I bring pictures of the trip back, my daughter always asks, “Mama, why do most of those children in a third world country have on shoes and you don’t? You’re the one from America.”

After all these years, my children are still amazed that I can’t keep shoes on my feet. Pete never liked to travel much, and he never left America. He used to say that if God intended for him to be in a foreign country, he would have been born there. Well, I play off Pete’s logic when I explain to my children, “If God had intended for me to wear shoes, I’d have been born with them on. But, then I realize that logic is flawed when they answer me back with, “Well, Mama, you weren’t born with clothes on, either.”

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