muse (noun) \ ˈmyüz \

1 : a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.

So throughout the years I always thought maybe there was something directing me to find Lost Soles, some sort of a mischievous guardian angel. I felt it was a relative that was lost and I never knew. Not only did this entity just show up and bestow me with lost shoes, but had been a poltergeist hiding stuff and playing jokes on me my entire life.

For instance, one event really stands out from my past where I was locked out of my van. I had just gotten out of my van and always left the keys in it and NEVER locked it, plus it didn’t have power locks, so I would have had to go around the whole van and lock the doors individually. But sure enough when I got back to the van, it was locked! I then called my girlfriend at the time to have her bring me my spare set that was on the dresser. I had just seen them earlier. She too had see them but when she went to get them they were not there. Eventually I was able to use a coat hanger and break into the van. When I got home, the spare set was sitting right where I thought it was. She was adamant that they were not there when she looked, but there they were when I went into the room. I wonder if I was just not meant to get into my van at that point and drive, like something was protecting me?

Other things, like my wallet showing up in the oddest hiding places made me wonder if someone was playing tricks on me. For a long time I thought it was my grandmother Hazel, born in 1906, whom I never met, and maybe this was her way to “bond” with me. I felt maybe she liked to play jokes on people like me, maybe that is where I got it from despite her reputation for being a very tough and fiesty person.

And when I got the inspiration to photograph shoes, it seemed something was helping me locate them, even guiding me to certain specific and meaningful shoes.

It was just recent that I thought I had a pretty good sign it was Hazel. Our beloved dog, Jinny, had just passed away. And one day I found a random flash drive in my pocket. I didn’t think much of it, until a few days later I looked on it to see what was on there. It was full of photos of our dog Jinny! I thought it was so bizarre. That night when going to a photo session I came across a lost sole at location I was to shoot. And the little girl I was photographing was named Hazel Jane. Jane being the name of Hazel’s daughter, my dad’s sister.

SO I just assumed maybe it was a sign it was Hazel that had been my guardian angel, or poltergeist. Which, I had a medium a long time ago, give me an unsolicited “heads up” to.

But I am rethinking that in light of what I have learned recently.

My father never knew who his dad was, Hazel never told him. Recently I was obsessed with my genealogy and was determined to find out who my grandfather was. Thanks to DNA testing and online historical documents, I was able to pin it down to Oliver Chester Carlisle born in 1907, and during the year Hazel got pregnant, they lived on the same block in Augusta, Kentucky.

Chester as he was known as, died when my father was about 7. His house burned down, with him still in his bed, on Christmas Eve, 1940. This was pretty disheartening. He had a wife but had no children. No one that I could try to connect with to find out more about him other than my second cousin. And dont think her name, Ginny, being the same as my dog I lost has escaped me. Just adds to the “coincidences.”

Taken around the time my Grandfather Chester worked there, I wonder if he is in this picture somewhere. if so, it would be the only picture I have located of him.

The only info I could get about his life was off of the census reports. But it did yield something very interesting. It showed that he worked at a shoe factory, the L.V. Marks and Sons Company Shoe Factory in Augusta, Kentucky. Of all things, he worked with shoes! A fact that really struck a cord with me. Could he have been the force behind my inspiration for the  One Shoe Diaries, was he my muse? Perhaps the Hazel references was his way to try and show his connection to me since I had no idea who he was. I know it all seems like something from a spiritual medium’s infomercial. But how do we know there isn’t another side. Or do our minds just take random coincidences and turn them into a narrative that makes us fell better about death? At the very least it is one of those things that make you go hmmm.

Aren’t people who die tragically most often the people that are spirits that stay in this realm? Apparently it does run in my family. My 14th great-grandfather, Lady Janet Douglas was burned at the stake for the crime of witchcraft outside of Glamis Castle in Scotland, and has supposedly haunted the castle for centuries, now referred to as the Grey Lady. So maybe Chester’s death caused him to be stuck here as well, and chooses to be near family, perhaps Im not the only one he “haunts.”

I must admit, I like the thought of it all. A poltergeist who was my grandfather, who feels more like having a playful guardian angel, just like the way I would be in the afterlife. Only one way to even possibly know the answer, but that will be a while hopefully, as Nora has me predicted to live until I am 112!

The factory as it sits now. Almost ghostlike.