It’s time to honor a fallen friend. I’m talking about my pair of burgundy Florsheim loafers. The right one, in particular.

For 20 years, this pair of shoes gave me everything I could hope for. I bought them at a Sears store in Chicago, opting to go for the burgundy color, under the untested assumption that burgundy can be worn with either black or brown trousers. The shoes always did their best to pull my outfit together.

Loafers may not be ideal when wearing a suit or sports coat, but I found that, if my pants were long enough to cover the tops, they passed muster in most business settings. Plus, loafers are comfortable, easy to slip on and off going through airport security, and they cleaned up nicely with a wet cloth or the occasional shine for special meetings.

Over the years, I started to ask more and more of my loafers. I began using them when I went for evening walks with the dogs. Next thing I knew, I was leaving them out on the front porch each night, rather than sticking them in my closet.

My Florsheims took it all in stride. And they still looked remarkable.

I would have thought that there was nothing more one pair of shoes could give. But a few months ago, Amy Beth Baker, one of my German shepherds, was stricken with a very serious urge to gnaw on something. And who stepped up to give her the relief she so desperately needed?

My trusty Florsheims.

Shortly after, I found what was left of the right shoe. I held my old friend in my arms, and thought about the many ways that gifts can appear in life. I wondered how many daily gifts I take for granted.

I’ve since retired this venerable pair of loafers to a place of honor on the top shelf of my closet. They sit right next to the baseball that Ernie Banks foul-balled my way in the beautiful confines of Wrigley Field. It’s strange how such pieces of leather can take on meaning over a lifetime.

And shouldn’t a small corner of our closets be saved for the more “soleful” parts of life?