Saturday, November 3, 2012

The treasure of John Wilt's shoe

John Wilt's shoe is in my office.
One shoe. I bought it for $5.
I'm sure John didn't know where his shoe went. I'm sure when John was asked to paint his shoe, he probably did so happily - or at least I would think so, because his shoe is bright and colorful, with happy mushrooms and designs.That's why I chose his shoe. That's why I wanted this reflection of John Wilt's life. It made me happy to see it. This happy shoe was also used as a planter for a happy-looking little flowering plant. The plant wouldn't remain happy without real sunshine, it took up residence in real garden dirt at my house while a little fake greenery found a home in John Wilt's shoe.

His shoe was part of a silent auction at an event I attended last spring. John worked at a local facility called Marimor, which enables people with developmental difficulties to be productive. Productive is good. Productive is happy. And John's shoe looks like it came from happily productive hands.

The man's face in the picture known as John Wilt is smiling - a smile of a child: innocent, free of care, without pain or fear or worry or concern. I see John Wilt's face and I see others like him. Children who are born to be loved because that's their world. That's what they can understand. John Wilt would never have a space in an office like mine, a life like mine, or even children as I do. John's Wilt's life was meant to happily share his happiness - and the innocent smile I see in his picture - under the care of others.

I'll never get to meet John Wilt. I've had his shoe, along with his picture and a brief written introduction to John, in my area of the office since that March event. A number of people have walked past the shoe, because it sits on the shelf next to our one and only office printer. I wonder if anyone has ever wondered about the man in the picture that painted the shoe that I have on the shelf in my area of the office? I have many times. I even asked a Marimor staff member about John Wilt, and they smiled and said, "Yes, I know John Wilt." His smile made me smile, and I've always smiled as I've thought about the man behind the brightly painted shoe, John Wilt.

I'll never get to meet John Wilt because he died last month. The man's name that painted the brightly colored shoe was printed on obit page. One day I was reading through the online edition of our local paper and the name "John Wilt" leaped off the screen and into my eyes. John Wilt. John Wilt, with his picture and a recap of his life here on earth.

As I read, it became clear. John Wilt left a legacy. A legacy of love, and apparently a broken heart as his mother died the very next day. His obituary and her obituary were laid side by side on the screen before me, and the legacy of their life of love was shared in yet another newspaper article. It seems that John Wilt, in his shoes and with his smile, were part of many local sporting events as he and his Mom were inseparable. Their smiles and their love were welcomed by many, and there will a space at future sporting events for this Mother and her son. I picture a Mother who deeply loved her son, John Wilt, and who cared for him so deeply that they were inseparable - even to the place where she couldn't live without him. A son named John Wilt, who wore smiling eyes on a face of innocence as he painted his shoe - brightly and happily - because he was asked to. He shared his love, and I have have that treasure to make me smile while his legacy lives on as a brightly painted shoe in my office.

John Wilt - thank you for happily painting your shoe - and for giving me this reminder that there's an innocence and beauty to be found in the joy of life... and that's the best place to leave a footprint... :)

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