Look at these shoes below. They don’t look like much and they’ve definitely seen better days.
These shoes were given to me by a friend who is now making God laugh with his offbeat, brutish sense of humor. He’d have you laughing out loud one minute and then burying your head in your hands (in embarrassment) the next.
When he was born, the mold he came in was well and truly smashed. He was something else, one of a kind.
We meet for the first time in a group exercise class at the YMCA I was teaching. He was leading an unhealthy lifestyle and his friends (who also attended my class) convinced him to come.
The fact they he hadn’t done any form of exercise in a while didn’t stop him as he threw himself into the class with great gusto. His form was terrible, but his enthusiasm was not.
Apparently, he had real trouble getting off the throne the next morning and 911 was almost called. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
After a while, he become a personal training client and we formed a close bond.
He took me out to lunch.
He sent my family Christmas gifts.
He introduced me to his kids and brought them to my class
He treated my kids like the rich uncle they never had. He showered them with clothes, lunches, smoothies, gifts and most of all, his utmost attention. Whenever he was around, he made my kids feel like the most important people in the room.
He even gave them a nickname, the sharky brothers because of me being from Australia.
Not only that, he was a great father to his own two kids. He lived is an exclusive suburb, so they could attend a great school and get an excellent education.
He put his money where his mouth is, so his kids would have every opportunity to succeed. And he worked his butt of to make this all happen, and I couldn’t help but be impressed by these qualities.
However, to the outside world and to those who didn’t know him well, he was a loud, opinionated jerk who said things that might be deemed offensive. He had a Jekyll and Hyde personality and was far from perfect (neither am I), but he was my friend.
After I lost my job at the Y, we didn’t stay in regular contact. But we would talk occasionally, and he still send me Christmas gifts ever year like clockwork. However, I got concerned when I didn’t hear from him in a while, but I brushed it off to him being busy.
It was much more than that.
A close mutual friend called and told me he’d developed pancreatic cancer and by the time he discovered it, it was already at an advanced stage. His time on earth was limited.
The last few times, we got together, he didn’t talk about his illness much. However, when he was in remission he said he didn’t know how he was going to go from feeling great to being dead. It took every ounce of my being at that moment not to burst into a bubbling mess.
Even when his days were darkest, he still had a generous, giving spirit and put others before himself. He gave me clothes and nick knacks that he didn’t need anymore. He gave my kids basketballs, skateboards, tennis rackets and sporting memorabilia that his kids had out grown.
And he gave me these shoes.
Although they look like a muddy, tatty mess to everybody else, they mean the world to me. The shoes remind me of him and all the traits that made him great.
Whenever I do yard work, paint or any other menial task that I don’t like, I put on these shoes. They remind me of him and all the hard work he did to make others happy.
If he worked hard then so can I, because I have no excuse.