On a chilly Saturday, my husband and I sat in our minivan in front of the shoe repair store. We each held one of my Dad's Wolverine boots and examined how worn the soles were. They were in great condition otherwise, but the soles were shot.
My dad died in September of 2012. Several pieces of his belongings were given to family members and friends who miss him like crazy. Three of his flannel work shirts were given to each of his daughters. One of his ball caps went to his only grandson and his robe was made into a throw for mom and the remnants were made into pin cushions. The sting of losing him eventually wore into a dull pain and my mother bravely shared her memories and his personal items with the rest of us. Eventually, she gave several pairs of my Dad's shoes to my husband.
We decided that his work boots were just too good to dry rot in a closet when they have so many good years ahead of them, but they definitely needed new soles. We would have to let them go for a little while to make them serviceable again.
My husband took the one I was holding and gathered it in his arms to walk inside to the shoe repair shop. I stayed in the car watching him through the huge glass window. There was one lady ahead of him so I watched him shift from one leg to the other as he waited. There was something so moving about seeing him hold my daddy's boots in his arms. I'm not sure what it was.
The lady ahead of him finished and I watched him smile and chat and set the boots on the counter. He must have said they were Daddy's because the repairman smiled and nodded as if this was not the first time shoes had been repaired because someone was carrying on - or walking on. The craftsman picked up each boot and examined them with a focused frown. He rubbed his hand across the bottom of the sole and commented to my husband to which he only nodded.
The repairman walked to the back room of his store, he was gone a minute but then came back to the front desk. It appeared as if he were calculating the work that needed to be done. He looked at my husband, said something that I couldn't make out and my husband nodded. He opened the door the shop and climbed back in the driver's side of the van.
"Well?" I said. "How much and how long will it be?"
He warmed his hands against the car's vents, and smiled. "They can fix your dad's boots and it'll take about a week, but it's going to be $85.00"
He nodded slowly and winced his eyes as if it stung him to even tell me.
"We can't. I mean, I can hear Daddy whistle, shake his head and say "Whew, that's expensive sports fans!"
My husband chuckled then immitated my dad's whistle and shook his head just like him.
I smiled watching the memory come to life.
"Babe, I could buy you new work boots for that. Let's not. Go back in and get them."
"I thought you might say that *BUT* they are your dad's. I'm willing to spend the money."
"No. We'll keep them in the closet, and I can still see them. Dad would flip over that price."
He grinned at me. "I know he would. His youngest daughter is a lot like him. "
He opened the door and jogged back into the shoe repair shop. As the door closed behind him, I thought of all the places those boots walked with my dad.
The boots carried him on almost every trip through Home Depot. He wore them while he built my children's playground and treehouse. They kept his feet warm as he trudged through frigid winters with ice and snow. The boots protected his feet when he helped build Habitat for Humanity houses. They were his go-to work boots when he was bringing down trees or mowing the grass and when he climbed a ladder to clean out the gutters. Those boots were covered with sawdust and grease from all the hours in his beloved workshop. I lost count of all the cars he worked on while standing in our driveway. Several of his grandchildren balanced their toddler toes on the tops of those boots while he walked them around his and mom's mountain home. Those boots were probably propped up on a bench near a fire, on all those memorable fishing trips with his friends. They were with him when he was given an endless supply of "Daddy Do-Lists" on every visit with his three daughters. He served in the church work projects and for all the church widows who needed their own small home repairs. Those same boots were left on the steps of the back porch so they wouldn't track in dirt. Those boots have been almost everywhere with my dad and they feel like a part of our family because of their journey.
Our dad's Wolverine work boots trekked many miles and were of good service to the man who wore them. But the work of a humble servant will remain in the hearts of so many people.
The memory of the man will live forever.
Seeds to Share
1 Peter 4:10 - Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.