Saturday, June 18, 2016

Shiny Shoes and Smoky Sundays

Dad & me.

A story letter I wrote to Dad back in 1998:

Shiny Shoes and Smoky Sundays

When I was little, I didn’t see you much during the week. You worked hard at the hospital, you ate a big supper, and then I went to bed.

But everything was different on the weekend. On Saturdays, I had a very important job to do with you…shining shoes for church on Sunday. Down in the basement, the wooden shoeshine box was set out on the ping-pong table. The family’s footwear was lined up in a row and together we would wax and buff and shine. I slipped my tiny foot into each shoe, one at a time, and then carefully positioned it on the black footprint on top of the shoeshine box. And I polished like my life depended on it. You told me what a good job I was doing and that nobody else could make those shoes as shiny as I could. I burst with pride!

On Sunday, after we got home from church, our shoes still quite glossy, I had the task of counting the pennies from the collection plate. As I got older and could count by fives and tens, I was allowed to count the nickels and dimes too. It was such an honour to be the treasurer’s assistant.

After lunch, it was time to relax. You turned on a game, usually football, sat back and lit up a cigarette. As the sun streamed through the picture window, the smoke lazily drifted in the air. I lay on the rug of the turquoise and beige living room, soaking up the warmth of the sunlight, the smell of roast beef cooking in the oven and the magical feeling of security, peacefulness and love.

One request: Someday I hope that the shoeshine box will be mine. Just looking at it brings a rush of memories of weekends with you.

One apology: I know that smoking is unhealthy and politically incorrect now, but it was part of my growing up. It was part of you. It was a different time.

One update in 2016: I have the shoeshine box now. Dad quit smoking many years ago. I still love small moments with him.

©Conni Cartlidge   June 2016

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