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Why I Think of My Grandmother Every Time I Put Boots On


My grandmother used to call me “Bootsie” because I refused to wear anything other than my sparkly pink cowboy boots when I was a kid. My insistence had a little bit to do with the fact that my family happened to be living in Texas at the time and a lot to do with my stubborn 8-year-old fashion sense and commitment to making a statement.

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“Well hey there, Bootsie,” she’d say in her Philadelphia accent when I marched into a room. She’d be cooking something — she was always cooking something — and I’d twirl for her and stomp around the room while she worked. She’d ohh and ahh and say I was a model.

It’s been a long time since she called me by that nickname. In her last few years with us, her memory declined, and although she always seemed to know who I was, that was about all she could remember.

Gram passed away about eight months ago (I wrote about her passing here), and now I live in New York City. Although a lot has changed, I still rarely don any footwear that isn’t boots. However, now I’ve replaced the flashy, bejeweled cowboy boots with a pair of dirty and well-worn black Frye boots. They still give me the same shiver of confidence when I march out the door in them.

Every time I splash through a puddle or thud into a restaurant or bar, I think of Gram and I smile. I know she’s with me.

And I can hear her saying, “Well hey there, Boostie.”

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My sister and I with Gram.

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