January 1st is seemed like the perfect day to begin Papa’s new walking program.  He had not left Nana’s side during the months she was ill and really needed some fresh air and exercise.  It was the first day of the year, a warm and beautiful sunny Arizona day, and by an unfortunate miscommunication we had been committed to having lunch at two separate places that afternoon.  A walk around the block would really feel good for all of us.  During our first walk I realized Papa’s shoes were quite worn and he was shuffling his feet so a new pair of shoes was probably in order.  He really needed more than just new shoes, but they happened to be the top thing on my newly created shopping list.

Papa’s needs are small.  We had a quick discussion before we left the house and all he requested for his walking shoes were plain white, Velcro, and cost $25.00 or less.  Always up for a challenge I figured I would break his needs down one at a time.

Color – Plain while shoes without any added color.  That was easy; all of the shoe stores we looked at had several pair of plain white walking shoes.  We were off to a great start!

Style – Velcro.  I was worried about this as we were driving to the mall, I wasn’t even sure they still used Velcro fasteners any longer on shoes.  After some looking we were able to find at least one pair of white Velcro shoes at each of the stores we went into. Wonderful!

Cost – I knew this would be a bit of an issue and was working out ways to break the news to Papa that we just would not be able to find quality shoes for the price he thought they should be.  I explained that it probably has been a while since he bought new shoes, and inflation has hit everywhere.  Surely once he put on that new pair of comfortable shoes he would realize you cannot put a price on that.  I had him somewhat convinced.

Once we knew exactly what we were looking for we started talking to sales people, and asked them for a selected shoe in his size, 10.5 wide.  Nothing fit.  As he was trying to squeeze his foot into the shoes we picked out store employees were beginning to look as us as if we were requesting a cobbler to hand make his shoes.   We went to store after store and everyone provided the same advice to us, “go to the New Balance Store”.  So we did.

Size – I learned something very important that day; Papa had not bought a properly fitting pair of shoes in such a long time that he did not know his shoe size.  His foot was measured and the New Balance rep went to the back of the store and came out carrying one box.  He must have flipped a soundtrack switch while he was in the back room because it was as if Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah started playing softly in the background.  Smiling, the New Balance Rep slipped a shoe of the box and onto Papa’s foot.  Papa grinned, put the other shoe on and asked if they would dispose of his old shoes.  He proudly walked out of the store wearing his new 11.5 4E, white, Velcro walking shoes and did not mention the cost.

End note:  We have since been shopping for dress shoes.  Papa’s memory is not great, but when he gave me his requirements for what he was looking for he said black, slip on and size 11.5 4E, cost was no longer a factor.


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