I wrote a post the other day titled “Boots Out of the Blue” about a pair of expensive Lucchese Classic black cherry smooth ostrich boots showing up at my house with no note or method to identify who sent them.
I finally resolved the mystery of their origin.
As I said in the original post, I had my suspicions. I look after a cadre of senior pals, and have been taking them grocery shopping and doing handyman work for them — some for over two decades now. One of my friends, Mary, a sweet lady who was a neighbor of my aunt and uncle who I cared for, frequently joined me when I took my aunt grocery shopping. She also observed that I was visiting my aunt two, three, or four times a day during her last years of life.
Mary would stop me in the hall of their shared condo building to ask about my aunt’s condition. She also always, without fail, would take a glance at whatever boots I was wearing and sometimes would make a comment like, “those are nice boots” or “those boots look good with your dress clothes,” or “those must be tough boots for motorcycling.” She seemed to like the dressy cowboy boots better than dirty, beat-up biker boots.
Fast forward…I continued to take Mary grocery shopping and do odd-jobs for her for years after my aunt died. Unfortunately, Mary died six months ago. I was sad about that, and went to her funeral. I met her only daughter, who lived in Connecticut. Her daughter thanked me profusely for looking after her mother. I just humbly said, “it was my pleasure to look in on a very sweet lady. She was great to help out when my aunt was in her last years of life and I very much appreciated everything she did for us.”
Two weeks ago, Mary’s daughter, Sue, returned to the condo to clean it out to prepare it for resale. She could not get time off from work to do this necessary and sad chore until now. When Sue was cleaning out her Mom’s dresser, she found a western wear catalog with a note paperclipped on a page. The note, which I got yesterday, read, “my friend [BHD] would like these boots.” She circled a picture of a very handsome cowboy dressed in a suit wearing a pair of boots that looked like the ones that I received.
Sue ordered the boots for me two weeks ago, and that’s how I got them.
I didn’t find out this information until I saw Sue yesterday. As I said, I had my suspicions, but I wanted to check with her discretely and see what I could find out.
I dropped by Mary’s condo and saw Sue. I said, “A friend told me you were here. Can I do anything to help like take a load to the dump?” I know that one of the worst things about cleaning out a condo/apartment is that you end up with things that you can’t donate to Good Will or Salvation Army or other charities that take furniture and clothing, so that stuff has to go to the dump. Since Sue isn’t from this area, she probably had no idea where our dump (“transfer station”) is located.
Sue was very thankful for my offer of assistance. I loaded two huge loads in my truck and took junk to the dump as a last favor for my friend.
Upon my return from taking the second load to the dump, Sue said, “My Mom always talked about you. She said that you lifted her spirits with a sunny disposition and that you were such a great guy. Let me show you something.”
Then she showed me the note that I described above.
I teared up, and said, “so you sent the boots?”
Sue said, “the least I can do. Thank you for taking care of Mom.”
While I get a spiritual good feeling in doing the “looking after” of my senior pals, I never, ever, expect payment or gifts (though I do accept reimbursement for expenses such as wood, electrical supplies, and such). It is MY gift to have them to care for. They do things for me in other ways, like help me care for my spouse when I can’t be there and he needs someone to be there … just in case. We care for each other. I have always believed that our relationship is a mutual caregiving and friendship bond. Again, no expectation or desire for reward.
I am relieved, in a way, to know the results of this boot mystery, but still miss my friend Mary and her funny stories and pleasant, helpful spirit. R.I.P., Mary, and thank you for the boots. I can hear you say, “gee you look nice in your suit and those boots.” (I wouldn’t have the heart to tell her that I don’t wear suits to work, but I will wear these boots with a nice shirt & tie and dress slacks. She would like that.)
Life is short: what goes ’round comes ’round. Care for your neighbor and they will care for you.