Friday afternoon I got an email from my friend Ellen, saying “Wearing a pair of Aunt Flora’s shoes today, and already 3 people have made comments about how snazzy they are! Thought you would get a kick out of that…”
About a year ago, my cousin Betsy was forced to move her mother, my aunt Flora, out her apartment in my building and into a nursing home closer to Betsy’s home in Brooklyn. Flora lived 11 floors below me and my proximity gave me multiple opportunities to help Betsy pack, clean, give away, take pictures and generally reduce 89 years of active living into boxes, bags and crates.
Flora, under the tutelage of my fashion-plate grandmother, came into her own as a consumer of designer goods in her sixties, and spent a good part of the 70’s and 80’s buying very nice things. When we cleaned out her apartment last fall, she had over 100 pairs of designer shoes, all in an impossible size 5 1/2. The only person I knew at the time who feet came anywhere near that was my friend Ellen. One memorable November day, Ellen came over and while her boyfriend and my roommate watched the Eagles game, we played with shoes. Every single pair fit, and Ellen increased her shoe collection by a factor of ten.
Flora had her 90th birthday last April, and no longer recognizes most people who go to visit her. But I imagine that a little piece of the elegant, brilliant woman I once knew rejoices every time Ellen takes her shoes out on a walk.