Shoes

painting

This is a painting that hangs in my home. My maternal grandmother painted this in 1983, from a photograph that was taken on a trip to the beach when I was a teenager.  She was an artist, an art teacher, a sculptor, a porcelain doll maker, a writer, a poet and an all-around, prolific talent. I credit her and my mother with instilling in me the importance of being creative. If you are interested, you can read more about her (and my equally unique grandfather) in these two posts.

An Empty Well and You’re So Handsome I Hope You Never Die

My family lived on Long Island and we would frequently drive to a beach in South Hampton, about an hour from our home and spend the day swimming in the waves, playing in the sand, cooking and eating and getting burned to a crisp. My father would pack every square inch of our station wagon with the vital supplies; a large canopy to block the sun, beach chairs, umbrellas, coolers full of food and drinks, beer and wine, a small charcoal grill to cook on, and plenty of sports balls and Frisbees and water and sand toys.

I don’t specifically remember this particular trip but over the years I have tried to identify who the shoes belonged to. I’m pretty sure the pair third from the right with the red stripes were mine and I think the pair third from the left with the blue stripes were my fathers. I’m guessing the white pair on the left belonged to my mother but I can’t be sure.  The rest, I believe belonged to aunts and uncles, a cousin and my two grandmothers, all of whom would have been visiting from New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  The small pair of pink flip-flops belonged to my cousin who is about ten years younger than me. There has been some debate, over the years, that perhaps one of the pairs of shoes belonged to a girlfriend of mine at the time, but in counting them up, I now believe it was all family on this particular trip. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

We have several of my grandmother’s paintings in our house and on most days, this painting is just another backdrop in our home. But in retrospect, when I really consider it’s meaning, it brings back a flood of memories. Even more so than many photographs.  It suggests a time when I filled my shoes with much different hopes and dreams and goals than I do now. Not necessarily better or worse, just different, younger, freer and with much less responsibility to be concerned with. It’s also reminds me that three of these people, my mother and my two grandmother’s are no longer with us.

But new shoes have filled those spots in my life. These days if you painted a picture of my family’s shoes at a trip to Lake Michigan it would likely look very similar to my grandmother’s painting from 1983, filled with sneakers and flip-flops and sandals. On other days that painting might include cleats or dress shoes or barn boots or running shoes. In just over six years from now when my two kids have gone away to college, the painting will be just of my wife’s and my shoes. If we are lucky though, someday after that, we can add some grand-kid’s shoes.

There is always a large pile of shoes gracing the entry way to our house, a pile which varies in size and variety depending on the season. It’s an easy thing to gripe about.

But there’s also a comfort in tripping over it every day.

Because it tells me, that even though life is never easy, there is still plenty of walking and perhaps even running to do and so far, we seem to be headed in the right direction.

Oh… and by the way, this was my 200th post! Thanks for reading!

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25 Comments

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25 responses to “Shoes

  1. Well done on the 200th post, and I like the painting of the shoes. It displays talent. Nice piece of family history

  2. You certainly did a great job on your 200th post! I enjoyed every word..it brought back such great memories. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I have fond memories of my family’s summer trips to the beach. These days, my husband myself and our two children temporarily live on a tropical island. Though being at the beach, we spend much of our time barefoot, I find myself constantly picking up stray flip flops at the entrance and around the house. I’m constantly griping about it, but then think there will come a day when the kids are gone when there will be less shoes to trip over. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Happy 200th post! Your grandmother sounds amazing – you (and we!) are fortunate she and your mom encouraged your creative side. I like your reframe of tripping over shoes (one of my biggest gripes) – I’ll practice enjoying that I have little ones at home to trip over. Lovely post!

  5. Congrats on post #200! You are so lucky to have those paintings of your grandmother’s that remind you of pieces of your past. Thanks for sharing. Great post.

  6. I really loved reading this and all the memories you shared. Happy 200th post!! It’s all downhill from here! (at least in my case) And does it freak you out a little that you only have six years until your kids are in college?

  7. When I sent the world away last night because I wanted to write, I set out to finish one of two pieces: one about shoeboxes and the other on a theme similar to this. Then a happy coincidence happened and I went the silly route. Now I wish I’d gone with the shoeboxes.

    Your family is so wonderfully talented. . . and blessed. This painting is a treasure.

  8. You are a fantastic story teller and you know how to paint with the words. Thanks for sharing your childhood story … around this lovely painting.
    My hall has also a pile of shoes, and I live alone. *smile
    Good luck with your next 200 posts, I will be there … enjoying them.

  9. That painting is wonderful. I wish that I had some artistic talent, but I can enjoy others’ talent. I love the shoes piled up in the entry. In fact, I have taken photos of them. I absolutely adore the little grandkids’ shoes sitting side-by-side with my husband’s boots, and the flip-flops thrown across their parents’ tennis shoes.
    I have only found you recently, so I haven’t gone back to read the full 200 posts…..but I may have to check on them from time to time to see what I’ve missed.

    • Maybe you do have some of this talent. You at least have been able to pick on the uniqueness of the grand-kids shoes sitting next to your husbands large boots. Had my grandmother not had that kind of vision she never would have picked up the paintbrush to paint this image!

      • I don’t have an artistic bone in my body but I love photography. A friend of mine told me that I see things in “freeze frames” that others don’t see until they see the photo. I think artists see things much the same way but can go two steps further and translate it into light and angles and get it onto a canvas. A true talent. I wish I could do that.

  10. Gotta tell ya that is a very cool painting and post!!! Makes ya stop and think… All the sizes of the feet and how they change over time… 🙂

  11. Happy 200th! I love the artwork, and your comments made me pause and think about some of the art that hangs in my home and what it means to me.
    My daughter has a similar photo on her wall, but it has a bit different story. The family put all their shoes on a rocky outcrop, then went wandering off down the beach. When they got back (many hours later), the rocky outcrop had become an island – the tide had come in. They retrieved their shoes just in time to avoid losing them to the growing waves.

  12. Also a pile of shoes at our back door, Steve.

    I love the painting!

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