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Just buy the shoes

This caregiving journey has taught be to be patient, observant, flexible and a bit more compassionate. But sometimes, my practical thinking prevents me from being as understanding as others would like. I have been known to say, “Make it make sense!” or “I need it to make sense.”

After my caregiving journey started with my parents, I sprang into action, figuring out how to schedule things while researching conditions, symptoms and rehabilitation options and creating safer spaces that resembled those that they were used to living in and navigating. Well, while cleaning out clutter to make getting around their home easier, I decided that it would be a good idea to consult them (momma) about what should be kept and discarded. Actually, I was trying to stay out of trouble with momma; Daddy didn’t care, but momma was watching me very closely as I moved from the room to the trash bin.


I remembered the last time I’d tried to help her declutter. She was displeased with me and let me know it. She also pulled everything I’d thrown out and placed it back where I’d found it. During this purging, I asked momma about the travel bag that was still packed with lotions, soaps, shampoos, etc. As I removed each toiletry and asked whether to discard it, she said, “Keep it!” every time.

It didn’t make sense to me because they hadn’t traveled anywhere overnight for some time, mainly because of the limitations her stroke and their new dementia lifestyle caused. I asked her why she’d wanted to keep these items, and she replied that she’d need them if they took a trip somewhere. I’d smiled, said “OK” and left the items in the bag.

Momma was confident that they would continue to travel to “the country” to visit her siblings, or maybe to Alabama to visit daddy’s side of the family. Although they rarely ventured far from home, momma was hopeful that life would return to how it was before stroke and dementia. I didn’t want to destroy that hope.


Then there were the shoes. Momma and I both love shoes. I love high heels and wear them daily to work. Momma also loves heels, but she gave them up some time ago, as many women do when age makes wearing them too difficult. She, however, still admired the way that I, and other women, wore them. Whenever she complimented me, I’d jokingly ask if she wanted me to buy her a pair, and she’d always exclaim, “no!”

The day I walked into their house wearing lower-than-normal (for me) black leather, pointy-toed shoes with gleaming gold details, she fancied them. I asked, “Do you want a pair?” To my surprise, she nodded and said “yes” in her usual whisper. To see whether she was serious, I then asked, “Rube! Where are you going to wear the shoes?” She replied, “Anywhere I want!”

“Rube! Where are you going to wear the shoes?” She replied, “Anywhere I want!”

So, I ordered the shoes.

Although the shoe conversation probably occurred a year or so after the purge, momma clearly was still hopeful and very much “in the game.” When I delivered the shoes, she smiled bigger than I’d seen her smile in a while. She modeled them for me, and although she only has worn them a couple of times, she donned them proudly and confidently. Seeing her strut in the shoes and feel a little like her former, more independent self, warmed my soul.

This taught me to stop scrutinizing the sensibility of everything and just buy the shoes!

Written by Dr. Tracy Daniel-Hardy

Dr. Tracy Daniel-Hardy is the author of “The Adventures of Butch and Ruby: Chronicles of a Caregiver” and director of technology for Gulfport School District. She may be contacted at

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