Sunday, January 30, 2011

Red Shoes

My grandmother is, and was, a classy dresser. She has a flair for combining clothes that results in dramatic but not tack looks. She's not rich and her clothes are never ostentatious but she is able to find looks that speak of elegance and a timeless kind of classic quality. She's the kind of woman who can go into Walmart and walk out with an outfit that no one would ever guess came from Walmart.

As a child, it was an special pleasure to watch my Grams dress for church. She always looks nice and it's rare to see her "dress down" but Sundays? Sundays were reserved for the best. I loved sitting on her bed watching her pull out clothes from her dresser. It was a big brown dressed with a huge mirror framed by ornate bordering. The middle opened like a closet, and she kept letters and photos in there. Insider the drawers were neatly arranged under garments and scarves. Her jewelry box was on top and she would pick out matching jewelry once she decided on an outfit. She spent time going through the closets, pulling out dresses and rejecting them by hanging them back in place. She has a few outfits I adored: a red dress simple but silky. I loved the way it felt on my fingers. A long black leather coat that she gave me when I was in college. When she finally picked an outfit, she would shower, put on her make up and do her hair. Then she would get dressed (she didn't want make up on her clothes).  This was a carefully organized procedure that resulted in what I was positive was the best looking grandmother in the world. I loved walking into church with her and feeling that everyone was looking at this beautiful woman. She was a movie star in her big sunglasses and coordinated jewelry.

But perhaps what was the most remarkable was that my grandmother often had "revelations" about what she should wear. Most of the time, she just choose her own outfits but sometimes she believed that God "convicted" her to wear certain things. And they weren't always what one would consider appropriate things. In addition, to great clothes, my grandmother possessed a fabulous shoe collection. She had many pairs of heels in a hue of colors. They were all pumps, classic and simple with long, pointy heels. One day she told us, she felt strongly that God was telling her to wear a pair of bright red heels to church. She argued with God about how these shoes were  appropriate but God insisted she wear them. After fighting over this with God, she finally wore the heels. She said she felt very self conscious walking into church with those heels one, sure that everyone was staring and judging her. After the sermon, my grandmother said God told her the shoes were a vanity and to leave them at the altar.

I still can close my eyes, and see those red heels, shiny and bright, on the beige carpet of the altar.

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