sandals resting in the shade after hours of gardening. when he left me, i bought a pair of sandals that reminded me of grandfather. i remembered as a child, i would wait at the chain-link fence of the school at the end of the day, watching for grandfather to arrive from a day at the foundry, take my hand with a wide smile as we would begin the ascent up the hill to home. my heart delighted in his strength, the protection of this towering man who committed to never let go of my tiny hand. but that was a time of yesterday’s child. the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach wouldn’t leave me for months as they shriveled into years. the silence of abandonment corroded my thoughts, stilled my mind. my brittle heart no longer danced as it used to when he walked through the door at the end of a day and held my face between his rough hands before a kiss and a strong hug. i was alone now. he had left. for one much younger, more beautiful, satisfying, i had heard. days fell heavy with no one to talk to, to cook for, to smile or dance with when the moon rose and the crickets accompanied our nights. i bought these sandals because only grandfather’s wisdom, strength and tenacity would be able to give me the courage to get through another day with the ever-present nausea in my stomach and swollen eyes afraid to close. so now, i wear the sandals and dig in the dirt. i plant pale marigolds, deep purple eggplant, black-eyed susans and Early Girl tomatoes. i turn the rich brown earth and gingerly place each seedling in the ground, patting it securely in the dirt as if tucking each one safely in for bed rest. i wear the sandals outside and inside. they have, over the years, conformed to the arch and sway of my feet, of my step, of my path. and i know that as i have dug deep in the dirt, prayed and cried tears of abandonment, grandfather has walked alongside of me and has not let go of my hand.