Dad always said, “Leave your shoes at the door.” NOT! He said, “If you leave your shoes by the front door I’m going to throw them into the street.” Although he said this often, he has never to my knowledge followed through on the threat. Why he was so vehemently against shoes left by the door, unless he was concerned about someone tripping on them, remains a mystery. And since I did not think to ask him this question before he passed, unless he whispers the answer to me in my sleep, I’ll live out my days not knowing.
Please do not misunderstand or judge him harshly, he was a kind man. He cared about what others thought and said (sometimes). His family came first. He worked hard, played hard, had close friends, was a good brother and son. He wasn’t especially finicky except in regard to shoes placed by the door and the misplacement of his tools.
Perhaps his shoe annoyance came from living in poverty and not having the opportunity to have multiple shoes left anywhere, perhaps it came from living in a small space with a lot of people so that tidiness mattered, or perhaps my grandmother believed evil spirits entered a home through cluttered doorways. They are, at best, educated guesses at an idiosyncrasy that defied any logic we could find. So what did we, his children, do? We littered the front door with every pair of shoes we wore. It wasn’t our best moment and we tortured our father. We were children rebelling against a rule we thought unfair, absurd, insane.
But now none of us stand in each others shoes long enough to understand, do we? Isn’t that the whole point.
Writing 101, Day Five: Be Brief
My father wrote me letters, that’s what people did when I grew up. Camp, college, adulthood. I saved them. Reading those letters now, whisks me into his arms and energy as it did then. His song is quieter, subtler, of another frequency, but will not be silenced as long as I’m alive to hear it.