In Her Shoes
Late last summer, I received a phone call from The Center For Women and Families. They wanted to honor my mother at their annual “Women of Distinction” banquet and wanted me to accept the award in her memory. I instantly agreed. For the next several months I collected various artifacts, pictures and footage of my mother for the video they would compose. At times it was stressful to think about what she would have wanted said/shown about her for the award.
I didn’t honestly realize the magnitude of the award until a couple of weeks before the presentation. In the 20 years of the award, my mother was the first woman to be honored posthumously. If only it were that simple. With talks of her and the wonderful contributions she gave to our society, ALSO came this talk about this fantastic daughter that she has who is following in her footsteps and giving back to the community in her own ways. During those weeks, with each mention of my mother’s award came words about me and the similar characteristics she and I share.
My uncle drove down from Michigan to be my official escort for the program. I knew I in some way wanted to physically represent my mother at the banquet. So, I put on a pair of her gold shoes and matched it with her gold earrings. I was literally in her shoes. If you know me, you know I’m not one to easily tear up and get emotional. However, as I stood in front of the thousand seated guests and Denise Troutman-Vasquez made comments about my mother (and then me) I realized that this was the official passing of the torch between my mother and I. It was an emotional and spiritual moment. I came close to breaking down in route to the front, but I held my head high with the dignity and grace my mother always showed.
The banquet was beautiful and many of my mother’s closest friends were able to attend. The video they made of my mother included an interview she recorded less than a month before she died. I wasn’t sad while watching it, I smiled with pride. I favorite moment of the video was the footage they showed of she and I doing the electric slide. Her memory lives on and my life continues. I would say that I have large shoes to fill, but actually they are just the right size!!!
M.Y. February 2008