After an automobile accident while in college, I walked on crutches for a while, then graduated to athletic shoes, then normal footwear. My father always commented when I wore 4″ heels. It seems he feared I would fall and kill myself, but I somehow lived through those years.
One day after his standard admonition about my choice of dress shoes, I asked how he would know how hard it was to walk in such shoes. He replied that he had in fact worn heels that high. Needless to say I was intrigued and had to ask how my father, born in the rural community of Cartwright, a childhood baseball player, an Army veteran, and an accomplished machinist, not to mention my mother’s husband, had come to wear 4″ heels.
It seems they were his Aunt Pansy’s. Pansy was christened Sarah Jane Owen, but loved the flower so much that she legally changed her name to Pansy Jane. She married a handsome rogue who left Athens to play jazz in Chicago. After she wrote him that she had been diagnosed with Tuberculosis, she never heard from him again. She died at the age of 24, leaving a wardrobe of stylish clothes including 4″ heels.
After my father’s home burned, leaving his family with nothing, he wore Pansy’s shoes to plow the fields. It was all he had. My father was a man who did what he could. He did what was expected of him and did it well. Some years after his death in 1981, I was cleaning out the drawers of a secretaire. Among the miscellaneous papers was a job evaluation given my father at some point. Five areas of performance were judged as either poor, fair, good, very good, or excellent.
Before I read the evaluation, I would have surmised my father received an “excellent” in all five areas. He didn’t. He received a “very good” on four. On the fifth, he received an “excellent.” What was the fifth area? Honesty. That was my father, and I still miss him.