parking lots

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?”

She turned toward my voice and looked at me with pure panic in her eyes.

“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?”

“Yes.”

“Great. And you’re sure you drove a car today?”

“Yes.”

“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.

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About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

19 responses to “parking lots

  • CortneyTree

    Dearest Katie–I don’t know why this hit such a nerve this morning, but I’m sitting at my desk crying my little heart out. I guess you reminded me of the person I wish I was more often as well.

    Beautiful. Thank you.

  • sunday

    the photos are outstanding, you are outstanding. thanks for sharing that story. it is such a wonderful reminder. i could imagine myself sitting in the hot car, sweating, argueing with myself on whether I should go help or not. I hate to same a lot of times I don’t, the devil wins. Thank you!

  • the dicocco gang

    thanks sweet. I love this moment… and I love you telling it… and I love picturing you in the parkinglot with your beautiful face all calm and concerned…. and I love the third daisy picture.

  • Jessica, Myron and Rylie

    You just made a very pregnant woman cry.

    Your heart is so sweet!

  • thekooiet

    Awww, Kate…you don’t know how good, kind, and loving you truly are. What a beautiful story of faith…in yourself, in the goodness that’s in you, in the God who created you to love others. You love very, very well.

    Thank you for being my friend and teaching me…thank you so much for sharing this today.

    (I am way better than I thought at typing one handed!)

  • mr. chris

    what you did was a wonderful, important, monumental act of love. just to think of how that woman might have ended up had you not stepped in brings knots to my stomach.

    the alzheimers patients that i take care of are so far gone in the disease that i often wonder what kind of people they were, and what it was like to discover that their life was “falling apart” when they were diagnosed.

    i cannot say for certain how long this woman will remember your kindness, but fortunately, there are many of us who will and your kindess will permanently be a part of my life. whenever i see someone in need, i will be able to draw on your actions and make a choice outside of myself.

    thank you for being you kate, i love you and am so blessed to call you a friend and an influence.

  • Anonymous

    What a wonderful thing you did for that woman. And thanks for reminding me to take my time. I needed that.
    Carley

  • KatieKate

    Thanks for sharing the moment with me, folks… it’s been on my mind for awhile now and I just had to get it out there. I still tear up when I think about it… out of fear that it will be me someday out there completely lost. I hope, when (not if) it happens, one of you is nearby.

    For now, I figure we can canvas the US parking lots 🙂 I’ll cover NorthEast of Grand Rapids… Lowell/Greenville/Belding area. Jess, you’ve got SouthWest Colorado, ok? Cort, you’ll have to take all of Tennesse, but I think you can handle it.

    Would you believe the EXACT same thing happened to me two weeks ago, but ina humerous way? A sweet old man and Rylie and I looked for his blue car for a good 5 minutes before he remembered he drove a truck that day!!!

  • ecky

    i dont cry easily. not at movies. not at books. not at goodbyes. not at blog….typically. but this…
    you got me!

    wow. i’ve lost my car before in a big parking lot and that is scary enough. i cant even imagine…

    thanks for being you.

  • Dan, Annie, Will and Mocha

    What an amazing reminder to be still and patient and to look around. thank you. your words are life changing often.

  • Anonymous

    I read this early this morning and was so touched but just did not know what to say..so here it is…

    God bless you Katie!!

    Cathy

  • EllieRichellie

    Granny has taught me that Alzheimer’s is sneaky and mean. It’s the moments. .like the lady in the parking lot. . .when you remember that you have Alzheimer’s and know WHY you’re falling apart that are the cruelest. You did a good, good, thing. And I pray that people are helping Granny every day. . she just can’t remember to tell me about it.

  • Mandi

    Beautiful pictures. Beautiful story. Beautiful you. I’m so honored to call you my friend.

  • Amanda

    I know what you mean. I always feel like I’m not doing enough. I too am easily frustrated. Then, I get frustrated that I’m frustrated. Thanks for the story. And thanks for the reminder to be present and aware.

    Loves!

  • Becky Swann

    My grandfather had Alzheimers, we saw him get into a car with a stranger and we didn’t know if we would see him again, fortunately the stranger helped and figured out where to take him. My whole family remembers this story. Maybe her whole family will remember you! Well done good and faithful servant!

  • Grace

    I had a similiar experience leaving church Sunday night. A lady was in the parked car next to mine, and she as crying and obviously upset. I had already clicked my son into the car seat, and I debated just driving away… but it was like I was compelled to go over there by something beyond myself. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for helping us to be “good”… in spite of ourselves sometimes.

  • amy

    Oh thank you for doing that deed and for posting about it. The father of one of my very dearest friends has early Alzheimers, and its so reassuring to know there are people like you out there. Its an impossibly hard disease for everyone involved.
    And yes, i definitely shed a few tears reading .

  • The Zoo

    Kate,

    Okay, so my life is crazy and I just got to your August blogs. I cried when I read this! Maybe I’ll be that woman someday and I pray someone helps me too! Thank you for listening to God.

    I love you and miss you! P.S. You have the cutest baby! The story about Abe and his problems made me cry too but for different reasons! Keep sharing. I love it.

    Love,
    Renee

  • Bonnie Mulder

    We’ll be reading this one out loud at this Mulder dinner table tonight.
    Thanks, Kate.

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