My Princess Shoes (a Tale of Disability)

I sat on a counter, or that's what I remember.  I'm holding my mom's hand for reassurance I can't find.  A man in a white coat is using a loud cutting saw to shape the plaster on my calf that swoops around and encases my foot.  I picture him severing my limb or gouging me.  Other relatives are there, at least one of them my brother, I'm sure, but can't recall.  But I know, when the mold pinched me, I thought the ogre in the too-clean coat sliced into my skin and I began to cry.  I was seven or eight years old and an ankle brace was being made.

My right foot is clubbed and the ankle is weak.  I wear my brace when getting into my wheelchair and need it while in the chair.  If I don't wear the brace, my ankle could snap as I transfer.   I have a pair of white sneakers, the same ones I bought a decade ago.  They are the only shoes I own.  No other types of shoes will fit with the brace... and no shoes stay on my right foot... without the brace.  I've never done the girly thing and indulged in gorgeous footwear.  I've never had the option.  But...

One day, a few years after I received my brace, my mom came home with a box.  She sat on the floor in front of me and took out a pair of beautiful, dressy white shoes.  Carefully, she put them on my feet as I watched, enraptured.  My left foot slid into the shoe like I was Cinderella, like they were made for me.  Then, mom placed the right shoe on...

For a few minutes, though I had to keep perfectly still, I felt amazing.  Tears slid down my face as I thanked my mom for my princess shoes.  Of course, the shoe didn't stay on.  It hit me like a fist when it slid off with a small thunk, a sound more sinister than a gun cocking in the darkness.  It reminded me of yet another way I wasn't a "normal" girl.

My mom informs me I wore those shoes a handful of times at home after that first time but I don't know.  All I know is how wonderful something so simple can feel, when you never had it.  And that, all these years later, is what I remember.  I once had princess shoes, and I felt amazing.


  1. A bittersweet story. Memories of childhood are like this--selective and often vague.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    1. I commend people who write memoir just for that reason. Memory is a tricky thing and our perception of an event is colored by so many factors.