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Big Shoes on Little Feet

January 19, 2013

Big Shoes on Little Feet

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

Clippity-clop. Clippity-clop. The approximately three-year-old child was trying as hard as an Olympic competitor to keep up with her impatient, young mother. The scene unfurled in front of me as my second guide dog Heather and I walked down the State Street sidewalk toward the Big Lake—Lake Michigan. The obviously too big shoes for the little feet were tugging at my heart strings and my wallet. How I wanted to buy the little girl a pair of shoes of the perfect size!

As I walked with my Leader Dog, I wondered how I could approach the young mother who was assuredly in a hurry. What exactly would I say? As a teacher for most of my adult life, I was accustomed to telling people what to do, offering suggestions of what to do, counseling individuals. Fortunately or unfortunately, my thrusting out my opinions was never limited to the classroom: A need to teach has always exuded from my being whenever and wherever circumstances arose. Nevertheless, on this one occasion with the clippity-clop reverberating in front of me, I could not step into the scene. I just thought: I did not act.

Although I am blessed with having few regrets in my life, just observing and not entering this scene is one of my regrets. Even though this incident occurred more than a half dozen years ago, the scene periodically replays in my mind. Was the young mother taking the little girl to the park? Was the mother taking her daughter to day-care before hurrying to a job or job interview? I thought I would meet them again sometime on a walk, but I never have. I have only met my regrets.

When my sister Mary Elizabeth and I were young, our parents took us either to McCoy Shoe Store (on the square of Paris, Illinois) or to Horning and Hahn (a shoe store in Terre Haute, Indiana). At both stores, my feet were carefully measured to insure a good fit on my growing feet. Although the people at McCoy’s were quite nice, I especially enjoyed going to the shoe store in Terre Haute because it had a life-size, beautifully-painted, wooden horse I could ride back and forth, back and forth. Growing up, I always had at least a pair of play shoes and a pair of dress shoes that were well-fitted. Additionally, my cousin Carole had patent leather tap shoes and shiny pink ballet slippers. Of course, we had house slippers and boots also. I do remember having a pair of boots that seemed a bit too large for my feet; however, I never experienced trying to walk quickly in shoes that were so very much bigger than my feet as the little girl on State Street.

At the onset of another new year, I do make resolutions. One of my resolutions for 2013 is to live all twelve months without regrets. Finding a way to offer help to someone who needs help is a wonderful path to walk and avoid regrets during any year. I wonder if that little girl is now in the fourth grade. I wonder if she is now walking in perfectly-sized jogging shoes. I wonder how she is doing, and I hope that she is living her days with happy feet and a happy heart—with no regrets.


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  1. Carole Morgan permalink

    Living without regrets–I’m insprired! Thanks, Alice!
    Hugs, Carole

  2. Sue McKendry permalink

    In 1969, living in a strange city and starting a new life, my fiance took me to visit a horse farm, knowing that I was very homesick and worried about the horse and pony I had left behind in my sister’s care. As we walked past many small fenced enclosures, I was horrified to see that the horses all looked underweight. Because of the number of horses on the property the pasture had been overgrazed and there was no hay in sight. When I mentioned the horses looked underfed, a man told me that the owner was sick and had trouble finding people to care for the horses.

    We left the farm and I was upset, yet somehow comforted by the knowlege that my horse and pony were in good hands and well-fed. Starting a new job, preparing for marriage, and setting up a new household occuppied my mind, although I did occasionally think of the neglected horses. But I did nothing. A week or so later, I mentioned the farm visit to a new acquaintance and was relieved to find that someone had reported the farm to the local humane society who stepped in and removed the horses. I was also filled with shame that I hadn’t thought to do the same, a regret that I still carry with me to this day.

    What I especially liked about your “Big Shoes on Little Feet” was the empathy you showed for the mother as well as the daughter. I share your good wishes for both of them.

    I’m not sure I can live up to a resolution of “no regrets” for 2013, but I am certainly inspired by your committment.

    • Sue–Thank you for a beautifully written comment. Your touching story is a great addition to my posting. I know how much you have done for Belle so that she can enjoy a very happy life on your farm

      Take care–Alice

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