When time runs out with our loved ones, too soon or eventually, we often look for comfort in what is left behind. Perhaps a picture or a family recipe passed down the generations or a treasured heirloom of sorts – maybe a piece of jewelry or a cherished book. For Melody Hawdon, that assurance has been an embrace of loving memories of her Mom. And during her wedding, it was a really snazzy shoe that connected Melody to her Mom on the day that most brides long for the woman that raised them up.
It was near the end of summer 2013 when Melody and her mother, Linda Clayton, we’re quietly sitting in the doctor’s office together. Neither mother nor daughter reacted to Linda’s death sentence issued by the doctor -terminal cancer. Speechless, Melody threw her eyes around the room eventually landing her gaze upon the good doc’s shoes –Queen’s Transcendent by Fluevog.
What could have been a fun and superficial observation moments earlier now became a grounding distraction. And in the final months of Linda’s life those shoes- and acquiring them, would become one last mother-daughter adventure. Melody and Linda braced for a long good-bye but in their remaining days together they scoured the internet- eBay, Craigslist, Kijiji, Fluevog Market, searching for a gently worn pair of the shoes. Linda, ever practical, insisted that Melody find the best price for the status shoe.
Linda passed away on December 11, 2013 before the adventure was complete, but she insisted that Melody continue her pursuit of that unforgettable shoe. And so Melody did and two months later, she found them.
Melody shared a personal message with the seller about the search for those shoes. Melody was moved when her Fluevog find arrived, each shoe stuffed with a cash refund, along with a beautiful message from the woman who first wore those heels. She was so touched by the gesture that Melody shared the story about her mother’s courageous triumph over suffering and about the kindness of the seller on the Fluevog website.
The crew at Fluevog were touched by the story too and got in touch with Melody. In fact they were so moved by how Linda lived her final days and by the loving relationship shared between mother and daughter that they hoped to design and name a shoe to honour Linda’s life.
“If you would allow us the honour, we would love the opportunity to name a shoe after your mother,” read the email from a Fluevog rep. “It’s stories like yours that remind us of how beautiful human connection can be, even in the face of tragedy. Although your mother is no longer with us, it would be wonderful for us to know that maybe one day her shoe could inspire others through a difficult time of their own.”
Of course Melody, and Linda’s entire family, were ecstatic and joyfully accepted the gift. Adding to the sweetness of the moment the shoe would be released in the Spring/Summer of 2015 – just in time for Melody’s marriage to the love of her life, Richard Bennett.
Responding to the message from Fluevog Melody wrote, “I plan on wearing ‘the shoes’ down the aisle. I look at it as if my mom will be walking with me down the aisle. No matter the colour, style or design I will wear them with pride and excitement.”
Melody included a short list of her mother’s catch alls:
- *My mother is Linda Clayton (nee Bell). She would say Linda with an ‘i’ not a ‘y’
- *Her favourite colour was any shade of BLUE (disliked green with a passion)
- *She liked the song ‘Linda on My Mind’
- *Her wedding song was ‘I Can’t Help Falling in Love’
- *She read thousands of books, never stopped reading
- *Family was the most important thing to her
Melody and Rich began planning their wedding – engagement photos, engagement celebrations, picking colours, finding the perfect dress and sending out wedding invitations.
“We sent out invitations and were excited to go to the mail box daily to get the reply cards,” shared Melody. “When I received the shoes, it was like the official response that she was going to be there. Her reply card came in the form of the new shoes, with her name. She checked the ‘yes, I am attending your wedding’ box with that pair of shoes.”
On August 15th, 2015, the hottest day on record for that summer, Melody and Richard exchanged their vows. Carrying a bouquet of white roses surrounding one blue rose, Melody was escorted down the aisle by her dad and her stepdad- Linda’s widowed husband. Just over 100 guests gathered under white and blue canopies on the woodsy front lawn of the couple’s new home and witnessed their profession of undying love.
And on that day, every step Melody took was in her Mom’s shoes –the Linda Clayton, “a buckled loafer that features an exquisitely crafted 4″ scrolled heel, slightly reminiscent of something you might find in Ancient Greece”.
“On that day as I walked down the aisle with both my Dads holding my hands, wearing her shoes made it feel like my mom was walking with me. She walked with me down the aisle. She got me to the alter,” shared Melody. “By the end of the day- hottest day of the year, my feet were twice the size they should have been. But I kept the shoes on to keep her close to me during every milestone of the day.”
Later that evening Melody shared a special moment with the man, Brent Clayton, that loved Linda Clayton death till they did part, and even still.
“My stepdad and I did the father daughter dance,” shared Melody. “We both cried. He told me Mom would have thought I was beautiful and that she would have told me that. And he said that she would have been proud of me.”
Melody and her stepdad glided across the wooden floor in the Laird Town Hall, Melody wearing those special, special shoes.
“She danced with us…”
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Linda Clayton, by Fluevog.
How did Melody and Linda’s journey begin? Read it in Melody’s own words here.
Want to order your own pair of Linda Clayton shoes? Check it out here (blue snakeskin and black options available!)