Today at the store there was a woman in my way. More specifically, both she and her cart were in my way. Although it was mid-morning, the store was filled with people out doing their full pre-Thanksgiving shopping, and carts were piled high with groceries.
Around here, carts are referred to as “carriages,” but I digress.
The next item on my shopping list was yellow onions. I stood and waited as she picked over all of the yellow onions, with her cart parked in front of the next-closest color of onions (white), blocking me from getting within striking distance of my target.
Then I realized she was giving the onions to an older woman, likely her mother or mother-in-law. Each onion that made the cut was handed to the older woman, who held out a bag flush with their selections. They shared a cart.
My mind flew backward in time as it tends to do. I remembered all of the phone calls with my own mother, about taking her own mother to the grocery store. It was a much dreaded chore, as my mom wanted her mother to maintain some independence (re: going to the store and picking out her own groceries) but it meant she had to put up with a string of annoyances (re: waiting for her 90+ year old mother to walk down the aisles, driving her around, helping her around the store, helping her put on her coat, helping her do pretty much everything).
As I watched the possible mother-daughter duo staked out in front of the onions, I smiled. How nice to have someone to shop with, to discuss groceries with, to help with the items on your list and wait with the cart (carriage?) if you had to go to the bathroom, to share mischievous grins with regarding the box of cookies you picked out on impulse.
How nice to have someone to scold you about not eating enough vegetables, to commiserate with about portion sizes reducing while prices increase, to discuss seasonal displays and the bagger’s talents at bagging and whether the man behind the deli counter colors his beard.
How nice to have someone.
I wonder if my mom misses her mother when she grocery shops. My grandmother died over six years ago, when she was 93 years old. She was so small, barely five feet, and loved to wear Alfred Dunner pant suits with flats when she went to the store. She bought Tastykakes and would want to break the box open immediately when she got home.
When I was little, after I helped my mom put away groceries, she would dive into the cutlery drawer and pull out two spoons. Then she would go into the freezer and grab the recently-purchased half gallon of ice cream, which had melted just a bit around the edges during its journey home. She showed me how to scoop just the softest parts from the top of the carton. We would laugh and promise not to tell dad about our afternoon indulgence.
Maybe she learned that trick from my grandmother. I bet she did.