Most mothers take good care of her children. Some mothers like to feed their children cookies and cakes and mashed potatoes and marshmallow sweet potatoes and all sorts of wonderful food to say “I love you.” My mom told me that she was a good cook before she had children, but she got tired of one kid or another turning up their nose and proclaiming, “I hate that,” before taking a bite, so she got sick of trying new recipes. Mom wasn’t a bad cook, she just lacked creativity. Besides, that’s not how she showed her love.
Mom showed her love by brushing my hair, and making me dresses and knitting me mittens. When I was a not so little girl, she bought me a big furry coat and some expensive boots.
I was nineteen: determined to be a new wife, ready to move to the Upper Peninsula where summer is three months of rough sledding. No matter who tried to talk me into waiting, I knew what I wanted.
What I didn’t know was how very worried Mom was, not until years and years later.
Mom took me to the mall to buy me a new coat and boots for the North Country. I already knew how to take care of myself. Sure, I got clothes for Christmas and for my birthday, but I had a job. I was working my way through college. I was in love. I was far from a little girl anymore. Not to me, anyways.
We (she) picked out a big furry black coat that snugged up tight around my neck and reminded me of my first-grader days of sledding: I felt thicker than I was tall. Still, neither Mom, nor I, ever doubted that I would be warm enough for the six feet plus of snow I was sure to endure each winter of my soon-to-be married life.
“Let’s get you some of those fashionable knee-high boots,” Mom said. She had not learned her lesson from my sixth grade birthday when she bought me lipstick and a pair of nylon stockings when all I wanted was a microscope.
We headed to the shoe store, where determined Salesman knelt at my feet working up a sweat with box after box of size 7-AAA boots.
“This style is not for me,” I said.
“We just haven’t found the right pair,” Mom insisted. “I’m sure there are boots that will fit you perfectly.”
“I’ve got some that are stretchy,” said Salesman.
He pulled a boots over my foot. So far so good.
He stretched with all his might to close the gap between the teeth of the zipper running along the inside seam of the boots; black, of course, to match my big furry coat.
“Never you worry,” said Salesman. “I know a trick.”
He began zipping the boots a 1/2 inch, then tugging the boot down toward my foot, and zipping another small section. The zipper snagged my no-run pantyhose.
“This is not going to work,” I said.
“Let the man show you how it’s done,” Mom said, trying to reassure me.
“But Mo-om. My legs are too big.”
“It’ll be alright.”
Salesman continued zipping and tugging, until I had a knee-high boot pulled down and zipped snugly around my ankle. That’s when the real work began. Salesman’s forehead beaded with sweat as he tried to pull the boot up my no-run panty-hose lad, tree-trunk leg. He did succeed in proving my no-run pantyhose would never run, regardless of the size of the hole. At last the boot reached my knee. My foot had the same tingly feeling that comes with Novocaine or from sitting on it too long.
“Would you like to try the other boot,” smiled Salesman, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket and wiping his brow.
“No,” I said, “I want to try something warmer.”
Mom bought me a less than stylish, brown (not matching my gorgeous furry coat) Eskimo-like boots for $50. That was a fortune to pay for a pair of boots, no matter that they seemed to be lined with warm wooly sheepskin, and even if I would never, ever have cold feet in them.
I suppose, I’m more like Ralph Nader than Nancy Sinatra, because I kept those boots. Except for a trip to the cobbler to repair some stitching, and some new laces, they’re still keeping me warm. Okay, okay, the wooly sheepskin looking lining is getting a little worn out.
Now, she sometimes tells me how much she worried about me that year. I remember how she and Dad almost got blown off the Mackinaw Bridge coming to visit me on my birthday, a six-hour drive. I remember frequent letters and care-packages and phone calls to see if I was alright. I pretended to be, and I almost was. I might have been, if only I was really more grown up than still a little girl.
I don’t have the big furry coat or the husband anymore, and except for brief moments, I never did get to be stylish. That behind me, I still thank Mom each winter when I bring out my boots.
She really wanted me to stay warm. She wanted so bad to wrap her love around me and keep me safe. As a matter of fact, she still does.
- Creative Ways to Keep Your Boots in Shape (thinksoul25.com)