Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The New Shoes

Slap, SLAP, slappity slap...

I looked behind me and pulled out one earbud to ascertain if the strange noise was coming from behind me or actually coming from me somehow.  I stopped running and heard it again, advancing closer. SLAP, SLAP, slappity slap...

I waited. Mona soon came into view from around the corner, huffing and working mightily to keep a controlled gait. She stopped when she saw me, a wide grin breaking out on her round face.

We were on the second mile of a two mile run in the girls' fitness class I teach last period. Mona was a delight. Having been born with Trisomy 13, which causes mental retardation, and starting the year at almost 100 pounds overweight, she'd already built her strength and endurance where she could run part of the two miles, which she was doing now.

"I running!" she exclaimed joyously.

"I see, darlin', and I'm so proud of you!" My gaze fell to her shoes, and the source of the noise became apparent. "Oh, Mona, what has happened to your shoes?"

Her broad feet spilled out the sides of the worn canvas fabric. I could see more of her bright green socks than I could of the fabric attaching to the soles of the shoes. One toe wiggled out of a hole at the front and the left sole slapped loosely, almost free from its tethers, with each step.

"Honey, how can you run, or even walk in these?"

She looked at me with her ever present smile and shrugged her shoulders. "Grandma say we can't get shoes now. Have to wait till money comes."

Mona was being raised by a grandmother who loved her desperately, but who had few financial resources.

"Is this the only pair you have, honey ?" I asked.

She shook her head from side to side, her black braids swinging. "Other shoes in my closet, but they not fit." She giggled. "My feet grow real fast!"

Her shoe size was an 8.5, neither my size nor my daughter's. I'd heard some other teachers talking about how they were cleaning out closets of excess shoes and clothes, so I sent an email out to all the faculty, explaining I had a student who needed a pair of size 8.5 shoes.

Replies started coming back within minutes, each saying they would check in their closets that night. Just before I left for the day, though, one last email hit my inbox.

"Shelly," it said, " I don't wear a size 8.5, but I want to buy her a pair of new ones. I'll go to Academy tonight and pick her out a pair.  I want to get her some really nice ones." It was from Annie, a lovely fourth grade teacher who was new to our district.

Annie met me the next morning before school, an orange Nike box under her arm. She held it out. "Do you think she'll like them?" I opened the box and caught my breath. I know running shoes well, and these were not just any Nikes, but high-quality shoes that also came with a nifty price tag.

"Oh, Annie! These are beautiful! She will adore them, and they will really help her with her running. But you didn't have to spend so much and get the top of the line ones- she would have been thrilled with anything that fit."

Annie blinked few times and drew in a deep breath.

"I grew up really poor. My birth mom gave me up to a family who loved me, but had no money. It will always be burned in my memory of going to school with hand- me- down, faded clothes, never anything new, and of shoes that didn't fit, were worn out, or looked like they belonged to an old lady."

Before she could continue, tears welled up and streaked down her cheeks.

"The teasing, the name calling, the other stuff ... well, it's hard to forget...." her voice faded.

She brushed the edges of her eyes and smiled. "It really gives me such joy to be able to do this. I have more than enough, and to be able to share some of that with Mona helps me, too; somehow makes me feel I'm also helping that little girl I used to be."

The first bell rang and kids flooded into the hallway.

We brought Mona into the workroom and Annie gave her the box. Mona's breathless silence as she pulled it opened and cleared away the tissue paper morphed into squeals of delight as she immediately wiggled out of her old shoes and into the new ones.

Annie knelt and helped Mona pull the laces tight. Mona stood and giggled. "Thank you!" she declared as she jumped a few small hops.

Annie raised to her feet. She said softly, "And I thank you, Mona."

  



 

83 comments:

  1. What a wonderful story, Shelly! Why, when it feels so good to give something back, do so many people deprive themselves of that joy? Everybody wins in this situation. My mother was one of four sisters. They grew up poor during the Depression, sharing hand me down clothing. My mother often told me she had to insert cereal box tops in the bottoms of her shoes to cover the ever widening holes. Only when you have known that degree of poverty can you truly appreciate the abundance most of us enjoy on a daily basis.

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    1. Shady: You are absolutely right, and I think that's where some of this new crop of people have lost it. Never having faced real hardship, they can't appreciate what they've always had.

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  2. Oh my word....this was so lovely. Rarely do we get the chance to hit back at the demons that somehow still haunt us. Shelly, thank you for an amazing reminder of how marvelous humanity can be. xo

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    1. Chantel: I still have to believe there are more good people out there than bad ones~

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    1. Sinder Ella: Thank you for stopping by!

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  4. Stories such as this one restore my faith in humanity. You have touched my heart once again, my friend! Thank you!

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    1. Jenn: So good to hear from you, my friend! And yes, I think Annie is a terrific example for us all~

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  5. Now, I'm bawling....Great story! (it's more than a story, it's real life, and that makes it even better)

    (welcome back:)

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    1. Jamie Jo: It was wonderful to see both of them react! And thank you- I think I have found a workable schedule where I can fit everything in~

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  6. Hi Shelly. When we are bombarded with stories of the bad that people are doing, it is so lovely to read a heartwarming story like this. I can just imagine the sheer delight that Mona must have felt to have these wonderful new shoes! I suspect that Annie got almost as much pleasure in the giving of them. Beautiful writing as always my friend :)

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    1. thisisme: I so wish instead of all the gloom and doom on the news that they'd focus more on the good stories. I think it would make everyone feel better~

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  7. Oh Shelly, what a lovely tender post, You brought tears to my eyes!!

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    1. Saimi: I love it when humans show such kindness and goodness!

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  8. ...AND I'm crying again...darnit, I just redid my eye makeup. Loved this post. Love Annie. Love Mona. Love you. 'Nuff said! Thanks for your all support Shelly, it means a lot! xo

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    1. Sandra: They are some special folks, as are you, my friend!

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  9. Shelly, I love your stories so much! This one just made me bawl. I've never been able to abide the mean teasing that so many children have to endure because what they have is not as nice as what others have. I know you have such a good heart, but how wonderful to have this lovely lady pick up the ball and run with it! It always feels good to give service to others. If more of us took advantage of opportunities that come our way we'd have such wonderful days and sweet dreams - not to mention the better days and sweet dreams we give those we've helped! It's a win/win!

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    1. Karen: I hurt when I hear stories of the cruelty some people had to endure when they were growing up. I am like you- wishing more people would realize, just like Annie, how much better we can make this world with a random act of magnificent kindness. I love the way you put it, " wonderful days and sweet dreams". So true!

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  10. You're back! I'm so glad.

    And what a beautiful story. What a kind thing for Annie to do. Yes, there are so many good people in our midst! I, too, wish there was more focus in the media on good and kind behavior, to expose more people - especially kids - to good examples that they might be lacking in their personal lives.

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    1. jenny_o: Thank you! I think I've found a way to fit everything in that I have to do, so I hope it holds up!

      You are so right- kids will emulate what they see the most...

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  11. Another wonderfully to story of love and compassion. Well done.

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  12. A very touching story as usual and one we can identify with easily.

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    1. Odie: I think we can all say we've been there at one time or another~

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  13. Such a great story! I'm so grateful you shared it with us. Your stories really do make each of your readers a little bit better with each one. So glad that you haven't gone far!

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    1. Nancy: Annie really inspired me to not just give, but to "give good". I'm really going to try and put that into practice. Thank you!

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  14. Shelly,
    Thank you so much for another reminder of how much generosity counts. The opportunity to give is not one to be missed!

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    1. Marsha: And we are always richer for it each time we give~

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  15. The moment we help someone we feel happiness in our spine. Such moments are very few. Lucky are those who seize these moments.

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    1. Munir: Those who give receive the richest gifts of all~

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  16. What a sweet story, Shelly! Brought tears to my eyes. Annie definitely would know how to have been in Mona's "shoes". What a wonderful gift she bought for Mona and also for herself, Annie, to realize she had more than enough to share with others and then to go out and not just get second best or a cheap imitation but to get something that was in style, the "best of the best". Glad to see a post from you and such a touching story! Hope you are doing well!

    betty

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    1. betty: That's what has really stuck with me, that she went out and got the very best she could, instead of just going with second hand. And thank you!

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  17. Dearest Shelly,
    My Dearest Shelly!!! Although I have been busy and feeling a bit below par lately, this wonderful story of yours made heart SO warm and happy to know that your kindness led to this beautiful outcome♡♡♡ And I had pleasure reading your friends wonderful comments and your reply as well!!!
    Yes, wonderful story when we all live in the word filled with the gloom and doom on the news.
    I'm not sure if it is my place to say this but I was so touched by your friend "That corgi"'s comment and I thought she said all I want to say☆☆☆ She expressed Annie's beautiful spirit very well. I do admire her wonderful sweetheart. Well, so happy for Mona and moved by Annie's reply so much "And I thank you, Mona." puttig Mona's happiness to herself. Thank you very much for making my heart warm as well.

    PS> And so happy for your coming back to us, my friend(*^_^*)
    Sending you lots of love and hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

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    1. orchid: It is wonderful to hear from you, my dear friend Miyako! I do hope you get to feeling better quickly- please take care of yourself.

      I think it always benefits the giver the most when something like this happens. You warmed my heart by stopping by today- thank you, my friend!

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  18. Wow. This story touched my heart, Shelly. Thank you for sharing it. We can always find someone less fortunate than we are, can't we? I love Annie's heart of giving.

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    1. Thank you for sharing a wonderful account of the actions of the good people you work with. Annie will be blessed; and you will be as well.

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    2. Jeanette: I remind myself I need to look harder for those in need, because sometimes they are overlooked. Annie really inspired me, too~

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    3. vanilla: The older I get, the more I see how MUCH blessing there is in giving~

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  19. I am a shoe guy too. I brought Vibram FiveFingers to Borger give people better shoes, a better choice. I don't reaLLy make much money at it, but it is a labor of love, and quite something for myself, as I had never reaLLy been, or even wanted, to ever be a salesman. Thanks for the story! See, you never need to leave us, (smile).

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    1. esboston: That is a wonderful thing! I love to hear stories like that, and I know it is making a difference. Those are good shoes, btw.

      And, thank you. I think I've worked out a schedule that will allow me to post occasionally and still keep up with everything else~

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  20. Shelly, this should go into 'Chicken Soup for the Soul'. What an inspiring story! And I'm a new follower. Thanks for stopping by mine! Always a thrill to see new followers.

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    1. Linda: Thank you for coming here! I look forward to reading more wonderful posts at your blog.

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  21. What a heart warming story, it is more blessed to give than receive.Both Annie and Mona were blessed with those shoes...There is no money in the world that can compare with that. Much love to you for sharing Shelley. It inspired and lifted me as all your stories do. xx

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    1. Crystal Mary: Thank you friend- Annie has really inspired me. I'm going to start looking for ways to give better, just like she did.

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  22. welcome back! and back with such a beautiful story we can all learn from... be kind.

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    1. Annemarie: I am convinced enough kindness could change the world~ and thank you!

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  23. What a beautiful, moving story that brought tears to my eyes! What a blessing both of you are to Mona!

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    1. Dr. Kahy: They have both inspired me, and I'm going to be looking at giving in a different way. Thank you~

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  24. Giving is often a gift for the person doing the gifting, as it was for Annie. I am always moved by the fact that the things we do as adults can heal past hurts and negative feelings. This was a wonderful story Shelly, and thank you so very much for sharing it.

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    1. Cathy: So true- we can do things that bring healing to ourselves. I wish more people could understand that~

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  25. There are two examples of giving and reclamation happening in this story, but at first someone might not recognize it if they are not aware of your life's journey. The gift of the joy of being able to run is the first. The gift of being able to run in comfort and style is the second.

    Wow. You impact my heart and my soul with your stories, bringing me ever closer to recognizing the absolute beauty and sacredness of our relationships with all people. Bit by bit, my eyes are opening to people around me who look different, who are going through life with extraordinary challenges. How many years have I been living afraid to reach out, filtering my field of vision at the sight of either poverty, health, age, or developmental difference.

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    1. Jenny: How perceptive you are, and how very right. Even when my legs are burning and my lungs feel like they are going to explode at the end of a run, I am always, always thankful that I've been able to reclaim that gift in my life, and it is one hope Mona will learn to enjoy, too.

      I figure if we can just extend out of our comfort zones a little bit more each day, we'll all be thriving.

      But, oh, Jenny, you do reach out, you and Richard and Elliot, in huge, impactful ways. You all inspire me~

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  26. You gave me goosebumps, Shelly. There is kindness in the world. We just need to try harder to find it in ourselves.

    Hugs,

    Pearl

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    1. Pearlie: You are right. Too often we underestimate the capacity we have in ourselves to really make a difference.

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  27. I was in tears - that was so sweet and I am not sure it happened or not, but I could see it happening. Wow.

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    1. Sandie: It happened just last week, and in fact, Mona was in my class just a hour ago, wearing those same snazzy shoes!

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  28. This made me cry, such kindness is just awesome

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    1. Jo-Anne: Great kindness always moves me, too~

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  29. That was such a sweet, thoughtful thing to do!

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  30. Oh, this is so sweet. I have chills. Thanks for sharing this story. It's amazing how something seemingly small can mean so much.

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    1. Theresa: That's why it's great never to forget those small things~

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    2. Agreed! We never know the impact of our small kindnesses.

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  31. St.Nick or better known as Santa Claus does exist. He was a man who saw great need and gave with his heart.
    Your friend has a huge heart as well as you.
    It is a Christian duty to help others.
    Growing up with material wealth is hard...but also growing up without love is worse. This girl is blessed with a gramma who loves loves loves that little girl.

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    1. Christine: Spot on- love is much more important than things~

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  32. ps. I am printing this story to share with my children. Christmas is coming and this is what the true meaning (besides the birth of Our Savior) of Christmas is.

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  33. Dear Shelly, thank you for this story which has brought me down from my lofty thoughts about politics and the economy and the greed that seems to be threaded through so much of our life here in the United States. My visitor and I have talked ourselves into feeling really blue about the possibilities for our country to embrace once again the belief "I"m my brother's keeper."

    And then I read this poignant story filled with humor and tragedy and redemption and the great goodness that dwells deep down in all of us and simply needs a call we can recognize to bring it forward and forth. Some have forgotten how to hear or to listen to that call. Annie remembers. She is at her core a person who builds community, one person at a time. She, like you, like Mona, are humans steeped in Oneness. You three are a blessing to all whose lives you touch. You are a blessing to and from the Universe. Peace now and ever to all three of you.

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    1. Dee: What an eloquently beautiful observation! I agree- Annie is one who has used her past experiences to forge great goodness. Would that we all do that. We just have to keep reminding people they do have it in them. I am amazingly blessed by God, and I try to live everyday in gratefulness for it. Thank you, my friend, for being a blessing to me~

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  34. In the neighborhood, so I thought I would drop by again and give you a hug....(((Shelly)))

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    1. Just Be Real: Hugs always appreciated- thank you, friend!

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  35. I really hope you're still writing a lot because you have a gift, Shelly

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  36. What a beautiful and touching story. Thank you for sharing it.

    Thank you for visiting my blog today. :)

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  37. What a beautiful story! Loved the part where she said she felt she was helping the little girl she used to be. I understand what she means!

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    1. Kelley: And it's so true that so many times when we help others, we end up helping ourselves the most~

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