Ode to a shoe

Mold spores

Mold spores

The otherwise perfect bank holiday weekend was overshadowed yesterday with a too sudden good bye to my sandals.  I had carefully stored away all my summer shoes during the Christmas clean-up. I put them in shoe boxes in the hallway at the end of the radiator – not too close, but apparently close enough – to the leak. Rust corroded the radiator and the water dribbling from  it went into the boxes.  I have never seen so much blue-green mould inside a house.  Both pairs of sandals I own are completely covered by fungi and I don’t even want to begin to think about what could be underneath the carpet.

When J moved in (a couple of years ago) we re-painted the hallway and noticed some rust on the radiator. We mentioned it to the agency during the house inspection, but I didn’t check if they were really taking care of it – probably because I didn’t expect this mistake would come back to haunt me. It sounds very pathetic – and from the outside perhaps it is, but one pair of  those sandals and I, we came a long way.

Years ago in my darkest moments before my illness was discovered, when my life was mainly reduced to incredible pain and food consisted of cooked carrots and apples –  a tea spoon every five minutes – my parents convinced me to see a specialist in another town, basically the last straw. My Dad drove me there. I knew the way, as it was pretty much the same way I used to drive for my singing lessons when I had still been able to do that.

For about one hour out of this three hour drive, it runs through lovely country side  – a short-cut to connect two motorways. It was March and spring hadn’t begun yet. During the country side part of the drive all I could think was that I would miss spring and summer terribly if I wouldn’t make it. I looked at everything like I was about to see it for the last time.

The 2009 collection - not my sandals

Summer 09 collection - not mine

The specialist surgery was in the middle of a bigger town and there were some very nice shops around. When we walked up to the building we passed a shoe shop. I glanced into the shop window and there they were: brown Lorenzo Banfi sandals with a flat heal and shiny leather – they seemed to call out my name. I looked at the price and thought that they might call my name, but with that price I’d never be able to buy them and wear them long enough to make it worth while. I think I pointed them out to my Dad. We went up to the surgery and I was subjected to all sorts of tests before I got to see Dr. M.  He glanced at the first test results, looked at me and said: “You don’t have any confidence in me?” It was perhaps a question but it came out like a statement and sure enough I didn’t have a reason why I should trust him (or any doctor at that point).

More than a hand-full of doctors before him had already declared they had no idea what was wrong with me, some of them pretty unconcerned by the amount of pain I had, some more considerate – but the fact remained that they weren’t able to help and my condition deteriorated with every week.  Dr. M’s unexpected sentence did make me laugh though, and we ended up agreeing on a deal for the next four weeks: I would do my best to stay alive and he would find out what I had.

Ok I could do that: four weeks wasn’t too long. He immediately proceeded to take action- when I left the surgery I had hope that I just might make it to see spring after all.

Passing those sandals with a longing glance, my Dad talked me into going into the shop just to ask if they had them in my size. Maybe they didn’t or they wouldn’t fit…. so I tried them on and they did fit and they did look great. My Dad bought them for me as a sign of hope. All the way back I had the shoe box on my lap. Driving through the countryside again I thought I just might come back in four weeks to see the little flowers all out – but tried no to get up hope too much.

Before those four weeks were over my condition deteriorated so badly that I was more or less bed bound. But: I was wearing those sandals. No one says  you have to walk in them! You can just wear them in bed. When you manage to cram a pillow underneath your head (which can take a while) you will  be able to see them once every now and then when you open your eyes and you can feel them on your feet. It took some time before those sandals really saw the outside of the house.

Ever since, I wore them every summer. They were worth every Pfennig (no Cent or Euro at that time). I wasn’t really prepared to throw them away even if  at some point in the next years I would have had to buy another pair.  They were my shoes on the way back to life and now they are in a plastic bag outside in the garden, covered in green mould – that wasn’t the retired shoe life I expected them to have.


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