A funeral for riding boots

Maybe it’s because I keep my possessions to a minimum that I sometimes have difficulty parting with objects that have been a significant part of my life.

A few years ago, I had to say goodbye to a pair of riding boots. I’ve been an avid equestrienne for the better part of 30 years and I bought my first pair of REAL riding boots in 1986. I wore these boots in horse shows around the province and in clinics with Olympians. The boots helped me ride at various equestrian centres in nine different cities in four different provinces.

Finally, in June 2010, they broke beyond repair while in service at a local horse show. It was a difficult moment for me, realizing that I would have to say goodbye to these boots that had served me so well for so long.

In order to cope with the loss, I decided to have a funeral for the boots. I set up a Facebook event and invited my friends, many of whom I have ridden with over the years. At first I thought that they would think that I was crazy (and they may have a point) but most of my friends helped me make the event memorable. One of my friends quoted a poem from Harpers New Monthly Magazine, Volume 54, December 1876:

Farewell, old boots! a tender last farewell!
Inanimate, but mourned as if with souls
Instead of soles: I’ll find for you some dell
Where, though no bell for your requiem tolls.

I had a few other friends weigh in and admit that this event encouraged them to retire various objects: dance shoes, army boots, and paint brushes. One colleague wrote that it was “time to lay to rest ‘Wedding Glass’, the last surviving member of a set of glasses that outlived ‘Marriage’ by 21 years”. Of course there is always one clown in the bunch and he thanked me for the “booty call”!

All in all, it made me feel much better that I had given a public tribute to my riding boots that had served me so well in the past. I wrapped them tightly in a plastic bag and they were taken away in the “hearse” (garbage truck).

If you have items that you have difficulty parting with, try having a funeral or a tea party or even writing a letter to the item, explaining its importance in your life. Save the letters with pictures of the items either on your computer or in a scrap book. It helps to let your friends in on the deal. They can comfort you and make you laugh like no inanimate object ever could.

7 Comments for “A funeral for riding boots”

  1. posted by wore out on

    I am so sorry to hear about the death of your boots. I can totally relate, having unabashedly shed tears when I had to throw out my very first pair of chuck taylors. At least they had a good life and were worn with love! Now you get to treat yourself to a new pair.

  2. posted by L on

    I once had a coffee mug. It wasn’t a particularly special coffee mug, but when I bought it I was super happy and just starting something I’ve recently decided not to do. So it represented everything I was giving up by choosing to pursue something else (even though I had made a deliberate decision to pursue the other thing.) So I wrote a blog post about it.

  3. posted by Jessica on

    This made me smile. As a fellow equestrian, I can relate. I’m currently dealing with a fifteen year old daughter who refuses to hand over her broken down boots–just to be repaired! RIP, beloved boots.

  4. posted by John Vespasian on

    I liked the symbolic value of throwing away something that represents an area of your life that has diminished in value over time. Everyone should make it a priority to discard things, activities, and ideas of little value, so that he can free up his time and resources to concentrate on things, activities, and ideas of great value. Effectiveness begins with simplification.

  5. posted by Kathryn on

    This was a helpful and timely post for me. Soon I will be parting with my old 1926 upright piano. I bought it in 1981 with one of my first paychecks from my first full time job.

    However, due to its age, my piano technician tells me that it is increasingly difficult to tune. The quality of the tone is inadequate for the more advanced music that I am now playing and it is starting to have some mechanical problems that wouldn’t be worth the cost to fix. Its value has decreased over time and I might have to end up just giving it away.

    It is sad to let go of something that has brought me so much pleasure over the years. However the time is now, as I will be purchasing another, newer piano and I don’t have room for two pianos! I like the ideas presented here of having the “funeral”, taking photos, writing a letter to the object, etc.

  6. posted by Jessie on

    I relate. It was a sad day for me when my old silver slingback dancing shoes, with glitter and special toe stops so I could spin on the toes, were retired to the Salvation Army store. They helped me win dance contests 40 years ago; now I’m fat and have arthritis so my dancing days are over. I held onto them for many years hoping I would someday dance again. It was a beautiful time in my life, but I recently married (at age 64!) so I’m starting another beautiful time, and will make new memories.

  7. posted by Leslie R. on

    I recently had to give up my pick-up truck – it was my first vehicle and I’d driven it for 14 years. I didn’t have a funeral, but I did make a list of memories that I’m slowly fleshing out into longer pieces and took a lot of pictures that I’m planning to make into a scrapbook. I made a lot of memories in that truck.

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