I was summoned in the grocery store parking lot the other day; “Blonde’, hey Blonde’,” I heard a voice call. Assuming I was the blonde’, I looked up to see an elderly woman next to her car signaling for me to approach. I put my grocery bags back in my car and walked over to her. She was parked beside the grocery cart coral and needed some help.
“Could you help me get some things out of the backseat…I need to return some things.” I said sure, of course I’d help her. Before opening the door, she told me how “they” gave her gray trash bags instead of the pink ones she likes; who wants gray trash bags she said with disdain? I pulled the back seat door open carefully so as not to hit the cart coral and there was a suspicious large brown paper bag on the seat looking a bit wet. “That’s it right there,” she said, “I don’t know how it got wet but be careful.” To my surprise the bag was not wet, it just looked that way after absorbing whatever liquid it had come into contact with. I’m not gonna’ lie, I picked it up knowing as soon as I was able, I’d be dousing my hands in sanitizer. I carefully put the bag in the carriage she had pulled up next to the car and asked if there was anything else. She opened the driver door, and in her attempt to grab more items from the front seat, one of her cherished mementos fell to the ground, a large white finger starfish. She described it as being very special to her; obviously so special that it made many trips with her in the car.
Her car was to say the least a bit unkept, but I have a feeling that she liked it that way. Maybe it was comforting to her. Once we had her ready to make her way to the store, I paused, and listened to her stories of being a teacher and allowing the boys to play cards on Fridays. “Why shouldn’t kids have fun at school,” was her motto back in the day. She went on to tell me about her daughter who had wronged her after her stepfather had died, putting something falsely in the newspaper that made her feel less than. It’s the only way for me to describe it because I couldn’t fully understand the references, but what I did understand was that this tiny elderly woman with glasses, bright pink lipstick, rouge (from the lipstick) swiped up on her wrinkled cheeks, and a pronounced osteoporosis back just needed to tell me at that moment how upset she was. The incident could have happened years prior, not that I would know, but obviously it still bothered her, enough to tell a complete stranger, who she referred to first as blonde’ and then promoted to movie star status.
When she spoke about her teaching days she smiled, and when she spoke of her daughter she scowled. I listened without too much to say, just nodding my head. She asked me what I did for a job, and I told her about being a stay-at-home mom to my three children as well as various interests and jobs I’d had over the years. She asked me if the kids were good… good to me, and I told the truth; yes, they were and still are very good kids. She said I was lucky.
We said our farewells as she leaned on the carriage handles and willed herself to proceed to return her items. I went back to my car, grabbed my bags, and heard her talking with someone else. As I approached the store, I could hear her yelling to me, “hey movie star.” I laughed and waved.
Sometimes people just want to be seen, to be listened to, to be acknowledged; and sometimes you are the chosen one who sees, who listens, and acknowledges. For me it was a lesson in patience, caring, and loving regard for another human being. And by the way, who doesn’t appreciate a “hey movie star” shout out once in a blue moon.
Thanks Trudy, for making my day! I hope I made yours as well.