The Red Shoes

I don’t do shoes.  I don’t have the shoe gene.  I mean, I like them, but I don’t need them.  I have very few.

But when my mother died, I decided to wear red shoes to her funeral.

My mother was an original.  She never desired to fit in.  She always wanted to be free.

Perhaps because she married so young.

Became a mother so young.

In many ways, I guess her children grew up with her.  Certainly my eldest brothers who were both born long before she turned 20.

She played the role she had to play.

But her true self was always elsewhere.

A woman of immense love, and nowhere to let it free.

I wore red shoes to her funeral.

She’d have thought it was utterly appropriate.

Funny – when the hearse arrived bearing her coffin, and the attendants opened the back of it to bring her coffin into the chapel, people moved away.

They stepped back.

I stepped forward.  And put my hand on her coffin.

To keep her company when no-one else would.

To be with her.

In my red shoes.

I planned her funeral.  Chose her clothes, her flowers, her perfume, her coffin.

And none of it was ordinary.  She’s have been very disappointed if I had chosen ordinary.

She had jazz music, a bright green blouse, masses of outrageous yellow roses, and a white coffin.


She’d have laughed, we’d have had wine, and red shoes.

And talked about how silly it all was.

And what a waste of money.

Ever practical.

My mother.

10 thoughts on “The Red Shoes

  1. Giving our last ones a fitting send off is one thing we human beings can still do for them when they are gone. Your post illustrates that beautifully.

  2. I found this via Annie’s amazing post and I’m so glad. Carol, this is just beautiful. I wore a leaf green suit to my Dad’s funeral for similar reasons. You know what? My Mum is still alive and happy and healthy. Next time I see her, I will wear my red shoes to celebrate still having her in my life. Thank you for reminding me.

  3. Your mum was very lucky to have a daughter who understood her the way you did. When it is my time to go I hope someone wears red shoes to my funeral.

  4. Green Tea and elephants. Trunks up. Loved this x
    A beautiful big brown and orange chook she knitted sits above the babies cot, looking down over her x

  5. As Joey Green says in the”Zen of Oz” when Glinda the Good Witch tells Dorothy never to take off the ruby slippers, she is telling Dorothy never to lose her inner spark.

    When someone dies we mourn their loss, in our grief we forget about the things that we have gained from that person. This tribute to your mother is a reminder of the great things that your mum gave you.

    Oh, and this was the tear clincher moment for me:

    “A woman of immense love, and nowhere to let it free.

    I wore red shoes to her funeral.”

    1. She was (a woman of immense love, and nowhere to set it free …) I adore my father, but … in another life … she’d have shone.

  6. That was beautiful. I never thought of it like that before. Stepping forward when everyone backs away and keeping her company. Beautiful writing. I miss my mum today being Easter. I guess every anniversary of anything “big” will remind me of her from now on in. And even though I know it was never perfect, the time we spent together, it was the only time we had. Thank you for this today Carol. I call my red shoes, my Dorothys because there’s no place like home. xx

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