I try to grocery shop only once a week. Rylie has reached the age of recognizing boxes and their contents… and the fruit section- well, that’s a whole other beast. I leave with half my groceries already open and bananas with teeth marks in them. You know what I’m sayin’.
A month ago, I unloaded my cart into my trunk, returned the cart, and strapped Rylie in- all while keeping tabs on a woman having an apparent argument on her cell phone. She was barely 50 years old, pushing a full cart of groceries, and crying. As I got in my steaming car, I turned to reverse and saw her standing 2 rows over with her phone now closed and her head in her hands. Sighing, I got out and yelled a bit abruptly, “Are you ok?”
“I’m lost,” she said. “I have Alzheimer’s and I can’t find my car. I don’t know where I am.”
I stared at her, shocked. Tears choked my throat as everything around me stopped. Parking lot- gone. Schedule- gone. Frustration- gone. I smiled as big as I could and said, “We can figure this out! Hang on one second.” I unbuckled Rylie and headed over. She handed me a small address book.
“I wrote every person I know down in this book in case this ever happened. It’s their number and how I know them… in case I forget. I’ve just never forgotten before. I’ve never… it’s never been like this before.”
I realized I was looking at a woman whose life was falling apart. This would likely be the last day she drove alone. The last time she went grocery shopping without a detailed list. The last time she would be independent. She handed me the little book- her lifeline.
“Alright… we’re at the grocery store in Greenville. Do you live in town?”
“Great. And you’re sure you drove a car today?”
“Ok. How ’bout Matt here? He’s your mechanic and it says ‘good friend’ next to him.”
“Yes! Matt knows my car!”
“Alright. Let’s call Matt.”
She dialed and I listened as she cried, but with less panic now, and explained the situation. When she got off the phone, she told me Matt was on his way and then described her car to me. We found it a couple rows over, but I walked her to a bench with her cart and left her smiling and calm outside the entrance, waiting for her friend. I was, you see, just the middle man… my job was done.
Honestly, I don’t have a super-great nature. I’m crabby when I’m hot (and sometimes when it’s pleasant outside), and I can’t seem to put laundry away in the same week it comes out of the dryer. I battle the demon of depression daily, I am slow to compliment others, and I’d eat popcorn for dinner every night if left to my own defenses. We all have things like this… I know. But for those short 15 minutes in that parking lot, I was almost good. I could feel it. I was more of the person I want to be… more like the God who made me. I’ve no doubt my actions were in large part because my child was in the backseat and deep down I wanted her to see what I can be when I really try. When I pay attention. When I forget myself. The Big Man continues to make me a better person through her. Thank God for her.
I just want to remind you to take your time. To look around. To smile at strangers and to share hurt. To do what you can when you can. I know it’s an impossible task, but we can try. And on those rare days when we succeed, we can celebrate with each other the absolute joy that floats up to the top of our little worlds.
That’s for you, Trace… the person who loves to hear about good and hope and possibility.
Daisy photos: un-edited and taken by yours truly one stunning morning in my kitchen.