Can I learn to celebrate my 90-year old Mom in her beloved “heels”?

Can I learn to celebrate my 90-year old Mom in her beloved “heels”?

Here’s the thing.

My 90-year old Mom, Rita, is a born fashionista.

As far back as my memory takes me, my Mom has always looked lovely to me. Every day. Hair done. Perfectly subdued make-up. Matching outfits.

And shoes.

Rita still tells me tales of her working in Boston as a young woman and spending every penny she earned on fashion. Her 3 younger sisters always attested to this, too… one sister with her own tales of “borrowing” Rita’s clothes and sneaking things back into the exact closet/drawer positions so as not to get Rita’s attention. Ah, these sisters all grown up and Rita never knew!

Back: Ruth, Joan, Nana, Jean Front: Rita - 1968
Back: Ruth, Joan, Nana, Jean
Front: Rita – 1968

For me, Rita’s only daughter, it was the shoes that mesmerized me; in particular, the high heels. I remember heading into my Mom’s closet to that heaven of high heels in every color and style. Slipping my tiny feet into pairs of them and dragging them clicking and clacking over every surface I could manage. For years and years.

My Mom took meticulous care of her things, too. Dresses were perfectly hung. Skirts hung inside out on skirt hangers. Blouses perfectly ironed.

Shoes stored in their original shoe boxes.

And she always, always looked lovely to me…

Dad, Mom, older brother and me - 1954
Dad, Mom, older brother and me – 1954

My Mom never discouraged me or scolded me for digging out her high heels and clicking and clacking  around our home. And I would, in time, be clicking and clacking around in my own high heels.

AND be blessed with daughters of my own who loved rummaging through Grandma Rita’s high heels, too!


But what was I talking about in the first place?

Oh, yeah.



Rita’s heels.

As recently as my daughter Jane’s wedding 3 years ago, Rita was insistent upon wearing heels with her Grandmother-of-the-Bride outfit…IMG_0374

Don’t even think she’s kidding!

If I had said, “Sure, Mom!” she’d have been dancing in the shoe aisle, LOL!

But I’m the CAREGIVER.



Or, more like it, the HEEL-IN-THE-MUD!

My Mom is 90, albeit a pretty awesome 90. She walks up to 3 miles several times a week – with a walker and often with me and my youngest grandbaby boy by her side. As a matter of fact, I’m registering her for a 5k at the beginning of September. Now THIS is how awesome Rita is!


I helped Rita pick out a nice, comfortable, stylish, cool looking, sensible pair of walking shoes and she loves them.

For walking.

Not for “dressy” at all.

Which brings me, again, back to what I’m supposed to be talking about.

Can I learn to celebrate my 90-year old Mom in her beloved “heels”?

This brings me to this past Tuesday. Rita and I were taking a journey to Boston to visit her older brother Ed, who is very ill. Rita’s sister Ruth and my cousins Carolyn and Gina are lovingly caring for Uncle Ed in their home during his last days. Of course, this journey would be an emotional one.

And not only emotional, but physically stressful as well for my Mom. My aunt lives in the home in which my Mom and her siblings grew up, and Rita would have to maneuver several sets of stairs – both inside and outside.

I never gave it one moment, one inkling, one iota of thought to tell my Mom to wear her sensible walking shoes.

She didn’t.

Rita wore what are now her highest heels – 1-inch “dressy” ones. (In a recent move to an assisted living facility, I had talked Rita into donating her high-heeled shoes and boots. It wasn’t easy for her or for me, knowing that a very integral part of her had reached a point of very real danger. Her past. Her fashion. HER. But 3 pairs of lower heels were to be saved.)

I didn’t want to lecture my Mom about the stairs we’d be climbing. Or the danger we’d be facing. Or the sensible-ness of sensible shoes vs the slippery-ness and dressy shoes.

I did mention the heels. I mean, I had to mention the heels.

I suggested that the heels may not be a good idea with the stairs and extended time she’d be on her feet.

But I didn’t want to lecture like the Caregiver, Stick-in-the-Mud daughter.

It wasn’t the time. Nor the place. But I did panic just a bit. Actually, I panicked a lot. All during the drive to Boston, I panicked about those sets of stairs. And the heels. And my Mom’s ability to climb all of those stairs anyway, heels or not.

I kept thinking through our chatting about all kinds of things non-shoes related, “Why didn’t I just insist that she change her shoes?”

These thoughts crawl into the mind of a Caregiver. Thoughts of tripping. Or falling. Thoughts of injuries. Serious injuries.

Then those thoughts of –  Can I learn to celebrate my 90-year old Mom in her beloved “heels”?

Well, making a very long, rambling story a tiny bit shorter, my Mom did maneuver those sets of stairs.

With lots of help from me and my cousins.

As a matter of safety, I insisted that for the longest 2 sets of indoor stairs, my Mom do it barefooted for a more steady, even climb. She was not all that and a bag of chips happy about it, but she got the idea of not only my concern, but my cousins’ concerns as well.

We had a very beautiful visit with my Uncle Ed at a very, very sad time. I am forever grateful to my aunt and cousins for their loving care and that Rita was able to sit with her brother, hold his hand, talk to him and love him in a way that only siblings know.

Then it was time to climb down those steps.

Lots of them.

Barefooted again.

For steadiness and safety.

It was an emotional journey. An emotional day. A finality. A reality. A cycle-of-life knowledge that nothing is constant. Everything is in motion and ever-changing.

The drive home was filled with memories and stories and happiness for a life well-lived of an older brother who had his share of great sadness, but who knew how to live each day to its fullest…


(Photo l-r- Rita’s siblings and Mom – Ruth, Jean, Bob, Nana, Ed, Joan)

A 2-hour drive home talking about family and good times and childhood and siblings and how all the sadness is mixed in, too, but how we go on in the great cycle.

I knew my Mom was emotionally and physically exhausted as we pulled into a local restaurant to meet Barry for dinner.

I helped her walk in those heels through the parking lot, into the restaurant, then out of the restaurant.

But I couldn’t resist one photograph of the two of us in our shoes!


Yep. I’m the sensible one.

But I’m going to celebrate my 90-year old Mom in her beloved “heels”.

It’s gonna be a heck of a lotta work for me.

But who am I to discourage her from doing something she loves as she clicks and clacks along?

Sometimes that cycle of life needs to stand still – just a bit.













About Audrey

Audrey McClelland has been a digital influencer since 2005. She’s a mom of 5 and shares tips on her three favorite things: parenting, fashion and beauty. She’s also a Contemporary Romance Author.

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  1. 7.30.15

    You are the best daughter I have ever known. XOXOXOXOXOXXO

  2. 7.30.15
    Dee said:

    I love these pictures and this story….Rita rocks and always has. I agree with Nancy you are the best ever. 🙂 xo

  3. 7.31.15
    Joyce said:

    Wonderful story of exactly as you stated “The Cycle of Life”…You never fail to bring a tear to my eye or smile on my face ?….And isn’t that what a story is all about the Laughter and the Tears…God Bless you my friend for sharing another beautiful story!…XXO?

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