So I’m at the supermarket with 2 of my kids and this woman in her late 70s bumps into me, we apologise to each other for it and she starts talking about how she’s shrinking to the kids and how unfair it is to get older. They giggle. We carry on.
aisle 4: we cross her again and she starts talking about her kids and how she used to keep them well behaved by having a cane in the kitchen, threatening to hit them with it, even though she never did. My boys are horrified. The women around us roll their eyes & look at me like they’re sorry i’m stuck with someone who’s got too much time to talk to strangers.
i’m kinda tired, so moving slow… meanwhile her English accent is amusing and her tone of voice and tempo reminds me of comedian Fiona O’Loughlin, so i hear her out.
she tells me she thinks i’m following her and we have a little laugh. she tells me how her husband followed her home for ages before he got the courage to ever talk to her. “nowadays they’d call it stalking and he’d get arrested, but back then we just called it being shy and liking a bird”
i see one of the other women who again rolls her eyes to me as if to say.. so you got stuck with her again..
but i’m not bothered by it. i figure people cross our paths for reasons and i was curious as to what this was about.
aisle 6: she is trying to reach for a pasta sauce but cant, so i pass it to her. she tells me how her husband made fun of her shrinking and loves having her ask him to reach for something cause it makes him feel big and strong and she smacks him for making her feel like a little old lady but lets him make his jokes cause he’s even older than her and this makes him feel young.
the way she talks about it is really sweet. she has a cheeky sparkle in her eye.
as i’m heading for the check-out she comments on my healthy choices and tells my boys to be sure to eat everything so they grow big and strong.
she then pauses, looks at me and thanks me. i asked her whatever for? i did nothing except pass the pasta sauce jar. she says:
“yes that was kind of you. but thank you for listening to this silly old bird and all her chatter. i havent talked this much in ages. in fact i hardly talk to anyone anymore. i lost my husband last month. he went up and left me down here. and i’ve done nothing but cry for the silly old bugger. I’m not sure why i felt i could talk to you so much and i did want to talk about him.. we used to love coming to the shops to get our groceries together… ”
i had a lump in my throat and was holding back tears.. i told her ” i think your speechless days are over. you talk alot and are very funny. you should have been a stand up comic. your delivery and timing are impeccable!”
she smiled ” ahh you should have heard my husband! How HE made me laugh! but he’d also provoke me and tease me so i would make him laugh! we laughed so much together … i spent all my life laughing with him i didnt realise how old i had gotten untill now, that he’s gone .. i dont care that i’m old.. but being old without having someone that makes you laugh about it.. that’s hard! i wont hold you up anymore dear… thanks for letting me talk .. take care of your 4 boys”
me: how do you know i have 4 boys, i only have 2 here with me.
her: oh! i was thinking of my 4 boys! all grown now, but i have 4! oh i know what its like! i wish you the best. i wish you and you boys lots of love in life but always with more laughs!
as she walked away, i couldnt hold the lump in my throat back any longer and the tears just fell. putting the groceries on the conveyor belt was a blur.
walking to the car i realised that the gift she gave me hinged on one simple quality i managed to exercise at that moment: Patience.
we were in a rush yes, but i wasnt rushing. and i could have interrupted her at any moment to get on with my shopping or could have sped up when i saw her, but didnt. in return for my patience to listen to her, she shared such tender wisdom.
i pray G-d bless her, her family and make her reunion with her beloved a sweet one when it happens.
kindness costs nothing but shared wisdom is priceless