Skeletons Wear No Shoes
Pearl Watley Mitchell
© Copyright 2006 by Pearl Watley Mitchell
“You got shoes. I got shoes. All God’s children got shoes. . .”
“My shoes were supposed to be in the car, but when I got there, my shoes were nowhere to be seen.” That’s always my excuse!
Over the years, my shoes have been an area of concern in trying to meet appropriate social standards. I am a “barefoot" person, born and raised in the country, and I have a hard time keeping shoes on my feet, even at work.
I am a retired school teacher and at my retirement celebration, I had a really neat cake. It said, “Congratulations on your Retirement" in big letters. Then in smaller letters below, it said, “We will be looking for these,” and there sat a pair of my reading glasses, my keys, a pencil, and my money change purse, right on top of the cake. Mrs. Russell, our secretary, who is my personal lost-and-found agent, said to me, “We needed to put your shoes there, but we decided that it wouldn’t be good to set shoes on top of your cake.”
My husband, Pete, who passed suddenly after 30 years of marriage, always used to tell me that I should have been born back in “cave days” when women not only didn't have to wear shoes, but they didn't even own any shoes. He used to say to me, “Why should I buy you a new pair of shoes? You wear them out 'toting' them.”
I cannot, for the life of me, drive with shoes on! I don't even bring my shoes into the house. I leave my shoes in the car most of the time. So when I get to my destination, there are my shoes in the floorboard and I slip them on before I get out. Several times I went to school in the morning, started to get out and go in, and realized that I didn't have a pair of shoes in the car. This has happened many times when going shopping or to church. I'd get there and realize that I didn't have a pair of shoes in the car. What could I do except crank up the car and go back home to get my shoes?
One year, when a youth group was at our summer church camp, I gathered up several pairs of denim jeans from about ten campers in my cabin and went to the closest little rural town to a laundromat to wash them. I pulled my truck up to the curb and took the three loads of denim jeans off the back of the truck. When I got inside, an older lady tried to give me $5.00 worth of her quarters to use in the machines. She said to me, “Here, honey, you take these quarters, and wash your clothes. No wonder you ain't got no shoes, with that bunch of young'uns you got to raise”. It was only then that I looked down and realized that I had left my shoes in the car and was barefooted.
During thirty years of marriage, every time we started to back out of our driveway, my husband would say, “Do you have your shoes?” He would make me find them and show them to him, because if we were going somewhere, and I didn't have my shoes, I’d end up sitting in the car and not going in. Many times we ended up going through the drive-through or doing take-out when we were going out to eat, because I had left my shoes at home. Pete didn’t like that too well, because he liked to sit and eat at a restaurant.
Once my husband commented to me that a positive side of death was that skeletons don’t wear shoes. “After this life is over, you can be barefooted for eternity,” he said.
I have often wondered: Do angels have to wear shoes?
One Wednesday night, I went down to my son's church for services. When I started to get out, I dropped my shoes onto the pavement by the driver's door. As I proceeded to stick my feet into my shoes, I decided that since no one was there yet, I would go to the store across the road to get a soda. Closing the door, I left my shoes sitting in the empty parking lot. My son and his wife were the first to arrive after I left. As they pulled into the parking lot, my daughter-in-law saw a pair of shoes sitting in the empty parking lot. She calmly stated to my son, “Your Mama's been here. She left her shoes to let you know.”
After my husband passed away at the tender age of 49 years, I started doing mission trips with my church and other groups. I would have never done a trip while he was alive. He always said, “If the Good Lord intended for me to be in a foreign country, I would’ve been born there”. Anyway, I’ve done about fifteen one-to-two week trips doing many things such as construction, medical, teaching, ministry, Vacation Bible School , and disaster clean-up. I came home from trips several times with neat pictures of work in third world countries, especially in South America . After one trip, my daughter was looking at the pictures and she said to me. “Mama, why do some of these children in third world countries have on shoes and you don’t? You’re the one from America!”
In fact, on one mission trip to Mexico , we left at 3am in the morning. I had driven to the church parking lot around 10pm, locked the doors of my car, and stayed there until the others came. Since I live alone, I was afraid the clock wouldn’t wake me, so I just slept there. Well, about 3:00am, all the others came and woke me up. I stuck my feet in my shoes, grabbed my luggage, and we headed for the airport. Now, picture this … Here we are, sitting in the airport at 6am in the morning, with no stores open, and one of my teammates happen to notice that my shoes don’t match. They are sandals and they are similar, but they don’t match.
I went ahead and boarded the plane, thinking that I would get a pair in the airport at Mexico City - but no luck! We were running late and I didn’t have time to find any. To make a long story short, I went almost a whole week in Tapachula , Mexico with a mismatched pair of shoes, and plus, I had another pair in my car just like them. I was the brunt of many jokes, and I had to rebut with the fact that two guys wore the same clothes for three days because their luggage got lost. I hated to use that for leverage, but I had to try to salvage some of my dignity by putting them in the same “boat” with me.
Anyway, “Mama's Shoes” have been the family joke since my kids were born. After their Dad went on to Glory, the kids took up the baton and ran with it. They constantly check with me to see if I have my shoes, and they return shoes about once a month that I’ve left at their homes on various occasions. Yes, it is still embarrassing after all these years when these situations happen with my shoes. But, when they make comments, I just smile and sheepishly try to minimize the embarrassment by saying, “Oh well, maybe God didn’t intend for me to wear shoes, because I was born without any on.” That’s when they boldly remind me, “Mama, you were born without clothes on too, but …”
“When I get to Heaven, gonna’ put on
my shoes, gonna’ walk all over God’s Heaven, Heaven…”
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