Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Small Update and Short Story

Well, we haven’t heard back from the one company that flew Colby out for and who then tried to cancel the interview. The other company that he applied to has contacted us to let us know they’ve filled the position. It’s looking grim and I’m trying to wrap my mind around the door being closed and another long winter here starting in about 6 months or so.

Another new development in our household lately is the refrigerator finally kicking the bucket. A few months ago it was freezing all of my produce despite my best efforts to get it adjusted correctly. Then came a short time when it was just right. Now it won’t get cold at all. Thankfully I still have our old fridge in the back room and have been able to move most of my salvageable food stuffs into that one.

Really starting to feel like a pioneer woman here, with no dishwasher, no dryer, no refrigerator, a wood stove, and snow that won’t quit! I think I understand a little better why women pushed so hard and sacrificed so much for the right to vote, the right to equal wages, and threw off the social stigmas that went with working outside the home. Before all of these appliances that speed up the daily duties, so much time and energy was spent just surviving that there was no time or energy left to expand thoughts, learn new things, or read books. I went on a laundry strike for two days because I’m so sick of the constant line of laundry through the living room that makes me move furniture around to accommodate it and makes me feel like the house is constantly dirty or disorganized. And then I ran out of clean socks. I’m not even going to try to dissect why I still don’t have a new dryer or a fixed dryer.

And on to the story:

Yesterday I went to get groceries. Three kids in an extra-long-beep-beep-bus-driver shopping cart is always the highlight of the week. I was just hoping to get in there, get out, and get home in time to put them all down for normal naps since the two older kids are still having a very hard time going to sleep. That started when Colby flew out to WA and hasn’t let up since.

Right after I parked I saw a lady take her extra long cart to the cart corral so I sped over there and grabbed it and loaded the kids right from the car to the bus.. I mean cart. Inside we went straight for the produce. We picked out lots of apples and oranges, then turned the corner to the next aisle. As I cautiously made my way forward, trying to steer clear of other carts and be conscious of how much room I need to maneuver, I found that an elderly gentleman was steering his cart closer and closer to mine. Before I knew it, I had been cornered. I couldn’t push past him, turn to go around him, or back up since there were people behind me. He didn’t seem the least bit perturbed by the rush around him, or the annoyance of the other people trying to get through. I watched and waited while he let go of his cart and shuffled past his basket, past my basket, and stopped next to my kids. He looked at them with a warm smile and then at me.

“Is there room for one more?”, he asked with a grin.

“Well, not so much!”, I laughed, “Got my hands pretty full!”

His eyes took on a serious tone and he looked at me for a few moments. He looked back at my kids, then to me and said, “But these are the BEST years of your life. I got three like that of my own in the cemetery, and now all I have to look at every day are just four walls.”

At that, he looked back at the kids and talked to them for a few minutes about the apples and oranges in the cart, then headed back to his cart. As he slowly pulled his cart from in front of mine and pushed past me, I reached out and squeezed his arm. He looked at me like he was grateful for the small bit of human touch, then pushed his cart on, muttering, “…best years of your life…” I fought back tears as I finished going down the rows of produce. His words had touched me, and I had to struggle to maintain some bit of composure while in public.

It was several minutes later that I realized how he had touched my life and I began to realize that I could have done more to return the favor. I left the produce section and began to drive my bus toward the entrance and checkout lines where he had seemed to be heading. I walked all along the row but didn’t see him. I was rather sad when I reached the other side of the store, but turned and headed toward the back of the store to finish the circle. And there he was by the plants and gardening supplies. This time I cornered him and began talking to him again.

And there we spent the next half an hour, clogging up traffic patterns and chatting away the time. I tried to invite him for dinner. I tried to invite ourselves to his house some Sabbath afternoon in case he couldn’t drive himself that far. But he seemed content to just visit there in the aisles of Meijers.

I hope I made a difference, gave him something to remember fondly, or just brightened his day.

After the shopping was finally finished and I headed to check out, I soon found that he was there in line behind me. There were so few things in his cart, I thought of adding his to mine and paying for them. Except that as the last few things of mine were being rung up, I discovered my wallet was missing. Oh yes, I had my purse, with everything in it BUT my wallet. The cashier put my order on hold and I left my cart with all the groceries bagged up in it there beside her till while I dragged my very reluctant kids back out to the car to search for the missing wallet. Emmy just could not understand why we were leaving all of those things there, especially since it was well past lunch time and they were all getting tired and hungry! Thankfully, the wallet was there and so back in we went, paid for our groceries, and headed back out to the car. A few apples later and all was right again with the world for the hungry kiddos. My thoughts, however, were still on the dear old man named Albert, shuffling around in the grocery store, no longer with a family of his own. I have much to be grateful for.

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