Let me preface this by saying I dearly love both of these incredible women. Okay? Ready – read!
I took two nonagenarians to the grocery store. Mom is 96. Her sister, Aunty J, is 92 They’re both creative in their own way, energetic and with most of all their faculties. Silly me I thought going to the grocery store was going to be, well, like going to the grocery store. Easy, right? You go in, you get what you want, you pay and leave. Boy was I mistaken.
Aunty J was visiting for the weekend and decided she wanted to go to the store to get some fun things to cook for her older sister. Mom also wanted to pick up a few things. It was only after the event that my cousin told me she would never go to the grocery store with her mother and “0h how brave you were to do that!”
“What?!! I yelled in to the phone. “Why the hell didn’t you warn me beforehand?”
First, I think my mom was showing off to her little sister. Normally when it’s just the two of us at the market, she reads every label, squeezes every peach and so on. I can go through the store three times waiting for her to finish. Not this time. The automatic doors opened and she shot off like a bullet!
Aunty J, in contrast to her sister, was creating feasts as we shopped. She bounced from one idea to the other. While she designed her meals we perused all the goodies in the aisles we walked through. She held onto my arm as I guided her from one end of the store to the other. At first I imagined our excursion like getting lost in a maze. That however, wasn’t quite accurate. It was more like slow motion pin ball!
Here’s the human pin ball at work: “I think shrimp would be good, I’ll make bisque.” Aunty J mused. So, off to the fish department we’d leisurely walk. When we got to the shrimp she’d ask “Where’s mom, honey? Let’s see what she’s getting.” Off we’d go to find mom. “I would like to make a potato herring side dish, I think mom will like it.” Aunty J has another idea after we found mom, who by the way speeds off like she’d been flung from a slingshot. Back across the store to the vegetable department for the potato – “just one” she said. Then we looped around in the other direction to find the herring. “We need…” I was beginning to dread the next item on the treasure hunt. “….sour cream.”
Of course it had to be dairy because we had only passed that department ten times! “Where’s mom honey? Let’s go find her.” Auntie J says again (appropriate pin ball sound effects: boing!) Next came spinach, (boing!) cereal (boing, boing!) and cheese (boing, boing, boing) and a “little lemon.” She says, so innocently. Boing, boing, boing, ding, ding, ding!!!
I finally got them both at the end of the store where there is deli, hot food and a salad bar. I thought we were done. “Okay ladies are we done shopping?” I asked with enthusiasm. That was wishful thinking on part. Mom said she couldn’t find several items.
At this point I was losing patience. “What items mom?”
“Raisins, peanut butter, bran and beets.”
Clearly a strategy was needed. Behind the sisters was a deli that had pizza – moms’ favorite. Quickly I pointed in that direction. “Look mom pizza! I felt like I was distracting two very young children. They immediately turned in that direction totally distracted. “You and Aunty J order some pizza and then don’t move. I will be right back with beets, bran, raisins and peanut butter. Ok, got it? Don’t go anywhere!”
I ran through the store retrieving the missing items. When I got back to the deli there they stood in the same positions as I had left them. “Did you get the pizza?”
“Yes dear,” mom said.
“Are we done then?” I asked hopefully.
Aunty J looked around for a few slow motion moments and said she would also like some salad.
“Of course, Aunty J! Why didn’t you get it while you were waiting for me to get back?”
“Well,” she said in her cute little high pitched voice, “you said to order the pizza and then don’t move.”
She smiled ever so sweetly.
I think I was being played by a 92 year old.
Three days later Aunty J called to say that she didn’t want to disturb her sister but she’d like to come for a longer visit. “Like ten days or so. Do you think that would be ok?” she asked.
Then mom called the same day…”Can we go to the grocery store, I need a few things.”
Boing, boing, boing! Ding, ding, ding! Tilt! Game over!