People who know me know that I to not talk to strangers. I hardly talk to family; I am an introverted loud mouth that does not need a deep personal relationship with my waitress in Denny’s. I do not smile at fellow grocery shoppers nor do I want to tell the clerk “how I am today” when she asks.
So after leaving Henry’s health food store with my groceries I noticed a woman who was probably ten to 15 years older than I am. She was struggling with her shopping cart. Trying to get it out of its storage rack. This health food store’s demographics of shoppers is from age 55 to 90 years of age. I know because I see them, I am there myself and their choice of loud music in the store is from the ’60’s.
About a year ago this older-age friendly store must have hired a 24-year-old marketer fresh out of college with a laptop, still living with his mother. They have made aisle and display changes inside that would challenge a professional stock car racer. And outside they installed these huge metal plates with 2 inch tall steel nubs all over them for safety when it rains.
Now we are in Southern California where it never rains and when it does NO one goes out of their homes till the terrible weather is over. But that is not the corker. This dim-witted, barely out of college idiot also places all the shopping carts in a rack that is directly in front of this steel torture sheet laying on the cement. Plus as you try to pull your cart free, it is on a downward incline so your teeth rattle and shake as you pull your cart out while trying to stay upright without the use of your cane or walker.
But that is a marketing story for another post.
The point is this dear woman was being run over by her bumpy cart so I went over to help her. I stopped and gave her my cart that had already been wrestled free and was already over the bumps of the steel plate on the ground.
So the dreaded happened–she began talking to me and I listened. I don’t know how it happened, I just sorta began listening to her tell me about her fake hips and muscle spasms while we fought to the death to get her and her cane out of the grocery cart wrack.
She was so sweet and had a classic face that still showed former beauty. We probably talked for 2 minutes while we got her settled in with the finally subdued cart. Then suddenly a man of about 35- 40 years old marched up to us with a male frown on his face. He growled at her, “I wish you would hurry up. I have a very important lunch meeting I have to go to.”
Ah—-the son. The wonderful son taking his mother grocery shopping because she was so pain-wracked she couldn’t go by herself.
I instantly noticed the red broken capillaries all over his face and that he was dressed in shorts and sandles and a Tommy Bahama shirt. He was obviously well-to-do and a full on drunk! He didn’t have any ‘important lunch meeting”. He wanted his afternoon toddies and mommy was in the way! Keeping him from his booze.
I looked him in his blood-shot eyes and said, “Oh gee we’re sorry for making you late”……..then reach over and patted her on the shoulder saying, “And on top of everything else we have to put up with the kids now!”
She nodded and he hustled her into the grocery store so she could go really fast and let him get on to the important stuff in his life. Like his liquid lunch.
Next time bring a thermos you self-centered twit! And sit in the car and drink your booze and leave your Mom alone. Or better yet, let me take her or something. Pay for a cab even! At least that would leave her with some dignity and not show what a louse you really are Mr. Preppy.
On the July 4th weekend that was her 7th birthday, Sarah packed her stuff and drove off with her Dad and brother for a big weekend.
Mom had a quiet time at home and with friends so when they came home on the night of the 6th, we gathered in my room to talk about all the stuff they did. Her brother went off to his room with a snack but I noticed Sarah still hanging around with her hands behind her back.
“What is it Sarah?” I asked. She got tears in her eyes and said, “I brought this brown paper bag to Dad’s to put all my birthday presents in but he forgot my birthday.” she sobbed. She held up the wrinkled, many-times folded brown paper bag to show me how empty it was.
Inside me I raged! Against the thoughtless father……….against my daughter having to experience this heartache…….I wanted to scream out nasty names for the drunk father that forgot everything always!
I bunched my hands into fists to my sides for a second then reached for her and pulled her into my arms. “Oh baby!” I cried. “I am so sorry that happened to you. But Sarah, never bring a brown paper bag with you to put your gifts in. When you get gifts, you will always find a brown paper bag to bring them home in. Ok??”
So we just hugged and rocked together, absorbing another life-truth she was learning.
For two years, one medical problem after another had finally brought me low enough to need hospitalization. It was a trauma for the entire family. I had never been sick before. Not this way. Doctors, nurses, insurance and hospital beds. Never ending it seemed to me. As I lay in bed on the 5th floor of the hospital, I sunk into a deep depression.
My daughter brought me home. She brought food into the house and checked on me daily. She talked about minor things and kept me occupied. Then came Mother’s Day. I felt so embarrassed when she brought in the huge decor box filled with “girly” gifts. All the other Mother’s days I felt it was ok to honor me. That I had done a good job. I was pleased with the past years job I had done.
But this year? No. I had been a burden and of no help to anyone. And now I was depressed and without any energy. It felt unbalanced somehow. What was I getting thanked for this year? Just a trouble maker is all.
Sarah gleefully helped me unwrap her gifts and the last item in the box was a tiny book. The title was “Mom You Rule!”. I picked it up to read and a woman’s voice shouted out, “You go girl!” We both cracked up and I pushed the book’s button several more times as we laughed. My daughter actually thought there was something left in me that could “go girl”. Amazing.
I loved the humorous sentiments written in this little book, so I put it into my purse and carried it with me.
The first time I realized this cheering book was going to be very important to me was a week later as I was struggling to get my weakened body out of my car. I must have pressed on the entire purse because out of my purse came that voice telling me, “You go girl!”
I laughed out loud and said, “Ok, I will.” Instead of the grimace I had had on my face, I was smiling and I got out of the car by myself.
It has been years now and that booklet is so precious to me. I am no longer ashamed at the turn of the mother-daughter relationship. I went back to being her mother of course, but now we are friends. Grown up women, supporting each other. I had stood by her during her teenhood and she had nurtured me back to the land of the living when I was older. Now we walk together, shoulder to shoulder. Even strides with a tiny voice crying out every once in a while from my purse, “You go girl!”
Someday I will tell you what happened to the “You go girl” mini-book five years after she gave it to me.