His Shoes


These are my Dad’s shoes. A man whose ‘style’ could be summed up as practical. He seems only to have one pair of shoes, these are the shoes he potters up the garden in, the shoes for his daily walk to the shop, shoes for driving to ‘golf’, shoes for going ‘out’. These are comfortable shoes, go anywhere shoes.

My parent’s visited this weekend, it’s a tough trying to balance the needs of a 3 year old with my mother who has Alzheimers. My Dad who wants timeout, wants to put on these shoes and chase around after his Grandson. I resent the impact of Alzheimers on our lives. Put simply, it pissed me off.

My son says; ”Nana doesn’t know what she’s doing”. It’s true she can’t remember where the living room is. Later that day she says; “I’m not very good at anything any more”.

Her carer is my Dad. He does everything she once did; runs the house, cooks all the meals, reminds and remembers. He supports and encourages her, recently, she insisted on ironing. Confused, she put her hand on the hot metal. He was there to treat the burn. He regrets he didn’t stand over her, but that’s not what she wants. At other times, she won’t sit or move forward without suggestion, she’ll simply stand, hesitating, at a loss in the middle of the room.

Things need to be explained over and over, for reassurance, finally she accepts; then she’ll roll her eyes as if the fault is with Dad for fussing over her. If he says something she doesn’t like, sometimes it goes completely over her head, other times she’ll shoot him a look of disapproval. It’s a delicate balance. Dad needs comfortable shoes, it’s a long walk.


  1. Rebecca

    What a heartbreakingly beautiful post. Sounds like you and your dad have a lot to cope with. He sounds amazing – though maybe a new pair of shoes for Christmas. Then again the way you describe him – he’d probably just go back to his old favourite pair.

  2. Emma

    Your parents sound like lovely people, and your Dad a real gentleman for looking after your mum the way he does. It is such a cruel and terrible disease isn’t it, sending you a big hug, you write so eloquently about something that must be so very hard for you. Emma xx PS. My dad has the same pair of shoes!

  3. Sarah

    Oh, Gemma, my heart goes out to you and your father. My dear Grandfather also suffered, with my Grandmother being his primary carer. ‘Thankfully’ he died of a heart attack one night, just before he got impossible to care for – though for the past year of his life he was up at all hours of the day, causing all sorts of mayhem for my poor Grandmother. It is a terribly sad disease and I feel greatly for you all. This was such a touching post to read. Big hugs for you all x

  4. Tara

    Gemma that is absolutely beautiful. It never ceases to amazing me how you turn the most mundane of photographs into a spine-tingling blog post. Simply stunning and you make us all feel your frustration and pain x

  5. SAHMlovingit

    Another very moving post about Alzheimer’s in your life Gemma. It’s a heartbreakingly cruel disease (My Grandad had it). It is a long walk for your Dad but he’s definitely got the right shoes for it x

  6. John Clayton

    A beautiful post. Lost my father in law to Alzheimers many years before he died. A cruel way to go.

    They say that if you want to understand a man you should walk a mile in his shoes. That way you’ll be a mile away *and* you’ll have his shoes (or words to that effect. Stephen Fry put it so much better).

  7. UleyGirl

    Good man, comfy shoes are the only way. And why bother with looking for several pairs when one will do? Keeping it simple, he has enough to think about, at least one decision is made for him. Great post, heartwarming, a bit of humour and a great photo. Give your mum and dad a hug from all of us x

  8. helloitsgemma

    When you ‘click’ publish, you don’t really know how a post is going to be perceived. The response yesterday was amazing, thank you so so much for all the comments, they are very much appreciated. Am really very touched by both the kindness and the emotional responses in the comments.
    many many thanks X

  9. imperfectpages

    What a moving post- it must be so hard, for you and your Dad (and your Mum, of course, although hopefully she’s oblivious most of the time). It’s such a cruel disease, as you end up caring for someone who’s just a shadow of their former self. Thinking of you all. xx

  10. CoffeeCurls

    Well said. I’ve experienced it with a family member too, horrible time for all. I’m glad you all have each other for support and I think your dad deserves a pair of comfy slippers for christmas xxx

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