Last Sunday, I found my dream shoes, divine red heels to make the heart of Â this woman who was a child of the 80s and yet who is a 1950s pin-up girl at heart, i.e. me, skip a beat. Finding the perfect shoes also launched a trip down Memory Lane, reuniting me with the spirit of my maternal grandmother and my paternal grandfather, and making me reflect upon how the generations who came before help shape the path of living our dreams.
It was a perfect sunny Sunday, and my best friend Steph and I decided to take a road trip.
We drove the half-an-hour to nearby Chatham, New York with the car windows rolled down. Chatham is a charming little town with one medium-sized block of Main Streets shops, boutiques and cafes housed in historic early 20th and late 19th century brick buildings.
Our destination for the afternoon was Cow Jones Industrials Vegan Boutique, a New York or LA-esque vegan-friendly shop that doesn’t sell any leather or animal products. They have a sweet little selection of clothing, shoes, handbags and lipsticks that are all made without animal products or animal testing.
My best friend, Stephanie, has been a vegan for eight years and the shop’s owner, Donna, has been a vegan for 21 years. So Steph loves to support the shop.
Shopping on Father’s Day
We had also wanted to go to see Donna because it was Father’s Day, and Steph knew Donna had lost her father in the past year, and was feeling sad about it. My father was away on a business trip in Wichita, Kansas, and Steph was taking her dad to the movies later, so our afternoon was free.
We figured we’d have a fun outing on a sunny summer’s day, get a little girly-shopping in, and cheer Donna up in the process, hopefully.
We dressed in sexy little summertime dresses, feeling young and flirty. We were both in the mood to love just “being girls.”
Enraptured by The Red Shoes!
The red shoes grabbed my attention seconds after I walked in the door. They were perched on a shelf near the dressing room mirror.
Shapely, curvy, made of faux-suede, they were actually a deep pink but look red at a distance. They featured a four-inch platform heel and a faux-suede rose on the open toe.
I was instantly captivated.
“I love those shoes!” I announced to the ladies, Steph and Donna.
I was going to resist trying them on, but then I thought what could it hurt? The price tag was a little higher than I wanted to spend at the moment, especially on shoes that I didn’t “need,” but the girl in me who still loves to play dress up needed to at least see myself in these shoes.
My Grandmother’s Granddaughter
I slipped my feet into the size 8 red/pink heels, and posed in the mirror on the dressing room door.
My first thought was – my Grandmom would have loved these!
My grandmother on my father’s side was a quintessential glamor girl. She owned dozens of pairs of high heels in every shade of the rainbow.
It was so much fun for me as a little girl to play with her things. She especially loved pink, and must have owned at least a dozen pairs of heels in all different shades of pink: pale pink, carnation, hot pink, fuchsia.
She would have loved the subtlety of these shoes, which were actually a very deep pink but appeared to be red. She would have loved the rose on the toes.
As Steph and Donna talked, I strutted around the store in these shoes. I couldn’t seem to take them off! They seemed to be made for me.
And I knew my grandmother, who I had been very close to and who had passed away two years ago, would approve.
The Image of a Dream Girl
When I delivered the eulogy at her funeral two years ago, I talked about her love of dress-up, fashion, make-up. She dressed to the nines every day, still wore a full face of make-up daily and had her hair done weekly.
Her handbag would match her heels which would match her scarf which would match her hat which would match her eye shadow. I used to love to play with all the colors of lipstick and eye shadow when I was a little girl, kneeling on the sink to paint my face in the mirror of the pink bathroom at her house.
My father said that as long as I am alive, my grandmother’s spirit would be alive, in my love of glamour, being a girly-girl, dressing up. Interestingly, I chose professions that allowed me to let this spirit shine.
I’ve been a professional swing dancer. I’m a writer and life coach. I’m working on my first book and hope to finish editing the manuscript this year, and have it published by 2012.
All of these are career tracks in which “image” matters, and in which dressing up in fun and sexy ways actually supports who I am being. (This, as opposed to politics, which I also considered for a long time, and which generally calls for a more conservative image).
Keeping Her Spirit Alive
More importantly, my grandmother and I are alike in other ways.
She had a big heart, a sharp wit, and a secretly wicked sense of humor. She just LOVED life and always found something to laugh about. She always looked on the bright side. I’m honored to help keep that part of her spirit alive.
Interestingly enough, the shopping trip was also an occasion in which I felt the spirit of my maternal grandfather come alive, although he was the opposite of glamorous — a Depression-era child who was incredibly frugal, practical, hard-working, simple.
Steph and Donna were talking about how Donna’s father had passed on, while I strutted around the room in my red shoes.
Wanting to be present with them again, and to connect in the moment, I sat down to listen.Â And soon felt called to share the story of how my grandfather had passed, as well.
A Peaceful Passing
I remembered my grandfather, also known as “Pops,” telling me years ago the story of how his father had died when he was a little boy. He described how beautiful it was, how peaceful, how his father had died surrounded by his beloved wife and six children, holding their hands, and when the moment came, simply stopped breathing.
My grandfather said he saw it as the most beautiful possible way to leave this world, surrounded by those you love, passing on so peacefully.
Pops had hospice care in my parents’ house the month before he died of multiple myeloma, or cancer of the bone marrow, at age 85. The day he died was my older brother Shanti’s birthday, August 1st.
My mother was an only child, and she had five children (me, my two brothers and two sisters). My brother arrived home from Texas the night before my grandfather died. We’d had a lot of close calls that week where we almost thought we’d lost him, but it was as if Pops waited for Shanti to arrive before leaving this world.
I’d spend a lot of time that week holding his hand and reading to him from the Bible, since he was a devout Catholic who had attended Mass every day until he got too sick to go. When he was conscious, and not conked out from the morphine that helped alleviate the pain, he would smile up at me, his face illuminated, big blue eyes glowing, and repeat a few beautiful phrases: “I love you. You are so good. This is so good.”
When Shanti finally arrived, Pops’ daughter, son-in-law and five grandkids were finally all together, there with him. That morning as we stood at his bedside, holding his hands, just being with him, he peacefully breathed his last breath.
I swear he was glowing, that his face was radiating light.
Spirits In The Air
As I told this story in Donna’s shop, my eyes were drawn to the twinkling white lights hanging in the storefront window, which I hadn’t noticed before. I felt like Pops’ spirit was in the room, listening to me share his story.
The whole experience made me reflect as well on the qualities of my grandfather, Pops, that I hope I continue to embody. He was also a being of great joy, whose face would light up with a million-watt smile any time any of the grand-kids walked into the room.
He had a vision that humanity would all blend together and become one race someday, as all the races procreate together, until we blend into one golden family. He believed that we are all, at our core, alike, simply human, simply part of the same global family.
We both come from the perspective of wanting the world to be united by love, a world finally at peace. And this is a spirit that I carry forward with my writing and life coaching, two of my big dreams that I am working on this year.
Who Are Your Role Models and Spirit Guides?
The weekend of the red shoes made me reflect on how much we are shaped and influenced by the generations that came before, as we carry their spirit into the world through the way we live our lives, and manifest our dreams.
The question I pose to all of you, dear readers, this week, is who are your elders and spirit guides who have helped shape your path, lit the way, or given you the courage to pursue your dreams?
Maybe take a few minutes this week to thank those who made the path possible for us to live our dreams. I believe that earlier generations are watching over as as we make our way in the world, and that they are proud of all that we are creating.
Let’s live our dreams out loud, and make them extra proud! Â Let us know how you are doing on your biggest dreams and goals this week.
Lisa Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on the Madam President Project.