My mother’s mother was a real southern jewel. She was a beloved 2nd grade school teacher and even on her meager salary she would find a way to help buy one of her students a pair of shoe or winter coat if needed. As pitiful as we pay our teacher today, back in the 40’s I can only imagine. She retired when I was in early high school when she said she turned 65 but we all knew she was probably older but refused to admit it. The courthouse that had all the birth records of her home town had burned down along with many records of the area. But her retirement was a big shindig where all the school attended along with former students, the local paper and of course family.
Her name was Charlotte but everyone called her Lottie or Miss Lottie, even her grand children. But she was NOT a grandmother. Don’t get me wrong, she loved her grandchildren and called us her grandchildren but she was not a grandmother. “The very idea!” I think that was her favorite saying. She had lots of great sayings but coming from the south, we do come up with some interesting ways of putting things. Sometimes words didn’t even need to be said, you just got “the look”. How many of us remember “the look”. I don’t think I ever mastered it, my kids could see right through me. But Miss Lottie’s was so strong you could feel it from the back, your hackles would rise. You didn’t even have to see it, you just knew you were getting it. Such fond memories.
Well, I am here to tell you that you don’t discount those memories you had with you grandparents as you never know when you may need one of those memories. One that tickled me the most were her clothing sizes. When she was young and thin I am sure she wore a size 12 but not in her grandmotherly state. So when we bought her clothes, we cut the tags out and told her they were size 12. And as we get older our feet spread and we gain a little weight, our shoe size changes. It’s part of aging I guess, at least that is what I have noticed, but I spent 40 years on a concrete manufacturing floor which probably didn’t help.
My grandmother loved this type of house slipper that looked very similar to a Japanese style slipper. I remember they were dark blue in color with darker swirls in the fabric and it was the only kind I saw her were. But she insisted she wore a size 7, yea, no. She was easily in an 8. But she would buy the 7, they would be too tight and bind her feet. So she would take her brand new slippers and cut them to allow room for her foot. I remember asking her one time(and only one time) why she did that. Her answer was that her feet swelled at night and she needed the extra room for the swelling. I returned with the question of why not buy the next larger size. Well, not only did I get “the look” I got “The very idea! Then how are they going to fit when my feet are not swollen?” Indeed, I thought quietly to myself as I nodded approvingly to her statement.
I laugh at myself now as I remember this story because I am using her “technique” until the swelling goes down in my right foot. After my first surgery, I was fitted with orthopedic inserts for my shoes to start using once I started walking to add the extra support I would need for my feet. The inserts do take up room and it is no issue with my left foot as it has minimal swelling left. But the right one is still pretty swollen and my foot would not fit in the shoe. So, Miss Lottie, I am using your method and it seems to be working fine. I removed the laces and the tongue and then slit the top just like she use to.
So the moral of the story is don’t fully discount the stories of your grandparents as they may be beneficial to you one day. Life is always a journey and memories sometimes are the things that help us make it through.
And in closing I remind you of the joys of laughter in helping you heal. Share your joy, laughter, kindness with others this holiday season. This can be a difficult season for some so always be kind. Reach out with a gentle touch to show others you care. It may be the only kind thing that person gets that day.