Sometimes simple solutions to everyday challenges elude us because we’re so busy “doing” that we can’t “pause to reflect” (or in my case remember) what needs to be changed in order to make life easier.

Take Grandpa’s new Velcro shoes, for instance. They’re highly preferable over the tie-on shoes he was released from the nursing home with (those shoes never belonged to him anyway), but it took me a while to remember to purchase a new pair when I was out running errands.

During one of his therapy sessions, Grandpa became exasperated when his foot kept slipping out from underneath him. He was practicing transferring from a sitting position in his wheelchair to a standing position at his walker. He needed T-R-A-C-T-I-O-N, and he needed it now! So off to the store I went to purchase a pair of Velcro shoes.

When I got home, I tossed the old shoes out the back door at the garbage can, only I missed. I had intended to throw them away before I left, but it was late and I forgot. It rained that night and the nursing home resident’s name that was written on the side (let’s just call him John Doe), vanished by morning.

I assumed the name was written in permanent marker, but it wasn’t, illustrating the sad reality that nothing is permanently yours at the nursing home (I know, because Grandpa told me so).

For some reason, probably the injustice we felt as a family that Grandpa was sent home in someone else’s shoes, we never quite read whose name was inscribed on them. For eight months, we used those shoes day-in-and-day-out, and it never occurred to me to commit the poor owner’s name to memory (Hey, if the shoe fits, wear it, right?).

After he tried his new shoes on, Grandpa asked me if I had saved the old shoes.

“No, I threw them away.” I replied disdainfully.

“You never know when you’ll need them,” he quipped (remember, Grandpa was nine years old when the Great Depression hit).

Normally, I would have been a little more frugal, but, honestly, I didn’t plan on ever needing “John Doe’s” shoes again. They were an old pair of Dockers and it was frustrating to have to tie and untie them several times a day. And believe it or not, Grandpa pretty much wore the soles down. Don’t ask me how, but he did.

Come to think of it, maybe there wasn’t much of a sole left on the Dockers to begin with. Maybe John Doe was a senior marathon runner or nursing home dance instructor. I regret, I’ll never know.

Isn’t this just another example of how devalued our seniors citizens are? Shouldn’t their personal belongings be returned to their families after they die? Maybe John Doe was blessed to have his family permanently bring him home, and somehow his Dockers were accidentally left behind. I doubt it. But it does make me wonder, who’s wearing Grandpa’s shoes at the nursing home right now?

Suffice it to say, Velcro shoes – friends of both young and old – have made life easier for everyone at our house, especially Grandpa.