The Girl and Her Shoes

“Oh Tony, I don’t want to go to school anymore. I can’t go. I won’t go.” moaned the young girl walking with her cousin down the dusty dirt road leading to their school.

Tony asked why and the girl explained, “It’s these shoes and socks Grandma makes me wear. The kids all make fun of me. All of the other girls have the shiny Mary Janes and the pretty, white anklet socks. Grandma says I have to wear boy shoes and the thick cotton socks because they hold up better.”

Tony listened with his head bent down as his cousin went on with her laments about her terrible shoes and socks. When she was done he spoke up with, “I’ll buy you those Mary Janes and some anklets.”



The girl’s mouth turned up at the corners and her eyes lit up momentarily until the realization that Grandma would never allow it hit her. Grandma would certainly make her return them. She expressed this to Tony who instantly said, “Well, Grandma doesn’t have to know. We will keep them under the bridge. Everyday on your way to school you can just change out of your old shoes and socks, put on the new ones for school and then exchange them again at the end of the day.

So that is what they did. Tony bought his cousin those beautiful shoes and anklets. Everyday on their way to school they would stop under the bridge and retrieve them so the girl could put them on. After school they would stop once more at the bridge so the girl could find her old shoes in their hiding place and replace them on her feet. The Grandma was none the wiser.

The girl and her Grandma

The girl and her Grandma


If you think that those small acts of kindness that you do for others don’t mean anything; you are wrong. They have the potential to impact someone’s life greatly. You may not get a thank you card. You may not see the benefits with your own eyes. You may never give a second thought about that small kindness that you did. More than likely though; you made a difference. Maybe the girl I mentioned above would have quit school. Maybe her self-esteem would have been shattered. Maybe it wouldn’t have affected her at all. I don’t know.

What I do know is that girl walked into school from that day forward with her head held high. She went on to live a very long life with a husband and 8 children. That girl is now 73 and she told me this story about those shoes. She is grateful for it to this day. She said Tony has always held a special place in her heart. That girl is my mother-in-law.

The girl always wore fancy shoes in later years

The girl always wore fancy shoes in later years

40 responses

    • Thanks Steph! Good catch on the name. It’s funny how they wrote the names of the people right on the photos back then! As for my neighbor Bill, he is holding up. I just saw him the other day at our local softball tournament. I took it as a good sign that he was out and about and buying some food there. He is definitely a changed person since Irene died. Much more quiet and doesn’t smile and my heart breaks to see how much weight he has lost. Thanks for thinking of him!

  1. What a lovely story to have shared with you. It makes life and relationships so much sweeter and closer to share past life’s moments !! I bet she has many stories to tell and hope you both have the opportunity to spend time together reminiscing !!

    • I really wish I did too! However, this story kind of made me realize that those small things really do make a difference and maybe I don’t need to know and just trust that it brightened someone’s life. If my mother-in-law remembers and talks about this incident that happened over 60 years ago it certainly had to be something huge to her. I would be willing to bet Tony never even gave it another thought!

  2. I agree with all the comments! Such a lovely and touching story =) And what a kind young man Tony was – to recognise the importance of those new shoes to a little girl and not see it as something frivolous.

  3. Love this story. I’ve met your husband’s mother on a few occassions back in my college career when she would come to visit. Such a beautiful and kind woman with so much goodness in her heart. One of those people you just want to be around. Looks like she found a good example of kindness in Tony early on. Great post!

  4. Content she was, and still is. I say the girl most certainly wore great thing and that is truly a Blessing. A Blessing to share with generations to come. Be A Blessing because you’re Blessed. Mtetar

  5. That has got to be one of the sweetest stories ever Melissa! And you’re so right about making a difference in someone’s life and perhaps never being aware of it. Loved it!

  6. Pingback: October Chat with a Mom: Melissa Vigil | Little Steps

  7. I’m so happy October Chat with Mom lead me here. What an awesome story. Have you ever happened to see a movie called Children of Heaven? It’s a foreign film and my children when they were the same age roughly as yours were able to watch this film, and love this film without even understanding the language or my little ones not even being able to read yet. It’s a wonderful story and reminds me of this shoe story a little.

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