Papa’s Shoes by Valmai Redhead

Last year, Valmai Redhead’s story, Papa’s Shoes, was chosen as the title story for the 2019 Stories of Life anthology. Her story was not only published, but also read out on 1079 Life in South Australia:

Papa’s Shoes by Valmai Redhead

Valmai shared with us the backstory to story that has touched many, and the anthology a keepsake for the family.

My husband Laurence and I were about to step into retirement, when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. After just a few short weeks, he stepped into eternity in July 2016. Losing my soul mate after forty-two years of marriage was the most difficult thing I have had to face. But the words of Psalm 30:5 are indeed true: Although weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning.

A few years earlier, when my dear mother-in-law, Alice Redhead first gave me Laurence’s baby shoes, I was touched to have such a beautiful childhood keepsake. Knowing that one day some creative inspiration would come, I put them away with no idea of how that would happen, or of the events that would unfold.

After the sadness, the joy did come. On 21 November 2016 Archie Laurence was born. About the same time I remembered the baby shoes and I knew what I needed to do. Although Laurence (Papa to his grandchildren) had never met Archie, he did know that his second name would be Laurence.

On the day of Archie’s dedication, what a joy it was to present the gift that meant so much. And what a privilege to see Laurence’s mother, aged 97 years, holding her great grandson. It was such a glorious picture of a legacy of faith through the generations.

Memories of that day created the perfect image for birthing ‘Papa’s Shoes.’ The story almost wrote itself. As soon as I began, more than 700 words poured out on to the page. The challenge of editing, crafting and honing it into just 500 words took much longer. Finally it was finished and I knew that whatever the result of the competition, the journey had been worth it. Laurence and his mum would have both been proud of me, and in knowing that I am content.

The 2019 Stories of Life anthology

Will your story of life be in the 2020 anthology? Submissions accepted till the end of July.