When it comes to a day full of daughterly duties with my octogenarian parents, a trip to the doctor’s office, a Bob Evan’s brunch and the post office can only be made sweeter by a stop at the local Lowe’s.
We first wandered around the Garden Center for about a half an hour. Mom couldn’t find the brickwork she needed, so we eventually moved to the inner sanctum of the store. She needed Round-Up.
She found a two gallon jug which I carried, and then she noticed some spider and ant killer in the handy-dandy two gallon jug variety, too. I reached for it, but she grabbed it first. Fine. If she carried it, we might get out of the store quicker.
My mildly confused, legally blind and easily distracted Daddy is looking at riding lawn mowers. He began questioning the clerk as to whether they could be street legal. He was serious. He still can’t accept that his driving days are over.
While he was talking to the bored clerk (who discovered he was no longer bored), Mom went looking for concrete cleaner. Concrete cleaner. Not a question, but an acceptance. I’ve never known anyone who needed concrete cleaner, ever. My Mama, however, buys it frequently. Another two gallon jug is added to my burden. She’s ready to leave.
But wait! Dad is talking to people! We can’t leave, yet!
Mom sashays over to their vicinity, and joins in with the conversation. She enjoys telling the clerks how Dad can’t see and can’t drive. She tries to explain how he just wants wheels, while diverting the conversation over to herself and how difficult this transition into old age has been for her. Really. She does this. Always.
In the meantime, my arms are ready to pop out of their shoulder sockets. The two gallon jugs are weighing me down tremendously. I finally set the jugs on the floor. Mom gives me an askance, dirty look. She’d already set hers down, but my action suggested to her that we should speed things up. Maybe it was my dramatic sigh. She now decides we’re done in this department and can head to the check out. I would have rejoiced, but I knew better.
I pick up my jugs and head in the direction I’m praying will finally mark the end of the pain in my arms. She makes two more stops along the way to investigate a set of grill tools (no one has used a grill at their house in five years) and a magazine on bathroom remodeling. (She’s almost eighty-five! Why would she even consider living with the mess of remodeling at her age?!) I keep tabs on my frustration at this time. Ten feet from the check-out, she finds some light fixtures that she wants to look at. I put my jugs on top of an appropriately heighted display, as does she. This is when Daddy notices that she and I have been carrying heavy things around the store, and he disappears. Mom finally feels we’re ready to check out. We move our jugs the ten foot distance to the register and set them on the conveyor belt, when Daddy shows up at a run. He has a shopping cart for us.
The cashier rings us up. We’re parked twenty feet outside of the doors to the store. Daddy insists on using the shopping cart to move our three, two gallon jugs outside. We’d already carried them for nearly an hour, because no one knew we were going to carry them around at all, nonetheless an entire hour. I didn’t need a cart. I didn’t need to have to take it back to a cart corral. It’s ninety degrees outside. I could carry all three jugs, myself. Let’s just go, OK?
Now, I’m feeling frustrated and it’s beginning to show. The dear little cashier calls me by the name she heard my father use for me.
“Ummm, Suzy? Dad needs to feel useful. Use the cart for him.”
I knew that. I did. Even the therapist needs direction sometimes. I took deep breath, smiled and nodded my gratitude to her.
Daddy takes the loaded cart and heads toward the Emergency Only Exit. The cashier yells over to the clerk minding the desk near the exit to please let us out; please disarm the alarm. Daddy barrels through the doors without batting an eye. Mom follows and I turned over my shoulder, and dramatically mouthed the words, thank you! to the clerks.
I truly am glad I still have them in my life. I’m also truly grateful for the young cashier who smiled me out of my frustration and reminded me to continue to count my blessings.