I have these sad old slippers. They have holes in them. They’re dirty and their soles are long gone. But my Mum gave me these slippers years ago and I just can’t throw them out.
Once they were upright uggies.* They were clean and warm with a sole thick enough to walk outside in. Like all soles, they eventually cracked and wore through but my mum doesn’t give up on possessions that easily. She’s lived through a world war and rationing and she’s not one to throw out something which is otherwise still functioning if she can find a way to repair it.
So, she took the broken soles off and had a look through her sewing stuff. She found some leather pieces cut and collected from a footstool that had reached the end of its life – obviously it couldn’t be repaired but the leather could still be saved. Then she cut the scraps to match the soles of the slippers and sewed them on by hand with a stitch stronger than any I know.
I’ve been wearing them ever since.
My mum has Alzheimer’s now and all that practicality and resourcefulness has been packed off to a distant part of her brain. In current phone calls and visits, she’s on a very small memory loop and it’s sometimes hard to remember who she was. Throwing these slippers out feels like losing a tangible sample of the way she used to be.
Her spare room still has a sewing cupboard full of material, thread, buttons, bits and pieces. There are even some leather scraps left over from that same old footstool. We hated all the hand-me-downs, the mending and repairs. We wanted new things and used to roll our eyes at it all.
Now I just want to thank her for keeping my feet warm all those extra years.
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