|Posted on July 6, 2012 at 12:45 PM|
Grief works in mysterious ways. One minute you’re sobbing into your soup and the next you’re laughing wickedly—almost maniacally at something that is not necessarily all that funny. I guess it’s nature’s way of releasing those crushing emotions.
My mother-in-law lay dying in a nursing facility just blocks from our home. She had been there for about two years, first unable to walk, eventually unable to speak and finally to swallow. We got the call on Saturday afternoon in the middle of Shea’s softball game. “You’d better come soon.”
Pepper, her sister Patsy, and I rushed to her bedside. We spent the rest of that day and night with her. Pepper resumed in the morning. I went to the grocery store to get some supplies not knowing how long the bedside vigil might last.
I pulled out a cart from the line stacked neatly at the entrance and wondered,
“Have I grown considerably in the last few months or did these carts shrink?”
They were the size of a kiddie cart. The only thing missing was a little yellow flag. I hunched over and pushed the cart through the doorway.
When I entered, I notice a big sign, “Tell us what we can do better!” You can buy life size shopping carts instead of these rejects from Toon Town. How about that?
I was about half way through my shopping when I noticed a sale I couldn’t resist. Two cases of water for $5. Even if I didn’t need water, I couldn’t pass that up. I don’t need water, I don't like water, and still and I couldn’t pass it up. I looked down at my Barbie cart and realized I couldn’t even fit two bottles of water, much less two cases. I begrudgingly decided to get just one and stuff it in there if necessary. I bent over, huffing and puffing and grumbling about the other $2.50 I could have scored, sliding the case on the bottom of the cart, when I heard it. Amplified. As though the Musak was replaced with this echoing sound.
I split my pants entirely up the back. Not just split,—or just a little rip----shredded. Shredded like wheat. Like Watergate files. Shredded. As though I backed into a whirring fan.
I began laughing…hysterically. The irony of the past few days…the past couple of years of sadness and difficulty and here I am with my shorts shredded on my arse. I looked up to see one of those giant mirrors which made me laugh harder. I could just see the “loss prevention” monitor watching me on the spycam to make sure I wasn’t eating any of those Craisins out of the plastic bag.
I still had Pepper’s comfort food to buy—chili, soft cheese, grapes, Coke Zero. What to do?
Unfortunately this was not one of those superstores where you can buy tires, bananas and a pregnancy test all in one place. There were no pants to change in to, just some beach towels, which would be weird even for me. Then I saw it from the corner of my eye. A Padres t-shirt stuffed into the bottom shelf. Right where they are in the MLB--last place. But, right now they were my heroes. I wrapped it around my waist; the sleeves stuck into my pockets on either side and resumed my shopping
People were probably thinking I'm trying to shoplift that valuable shirt.
At checkout, the young girl drones,
"How's your day so far?"
"Well," I say laughing, "I split my pants so far! So, I just borrowed this t-shirt,” handing it to her.
No response. No smile. Nothing. I'm laughing. Alone. The bag boy didn't even look up. Finally, she turns to look at me.
"At least you were wearing—”then pausing for what seemed like an eternity.
"Underwear? Yes--at least I think I am,” I quip.
No smile. Nothing. When the boy is done putting my plums in with the detergent, he looks up and asks routinely,
"Do you need help out today?"
"Yes. Can you walk behind me very closely?"
I thought he was going to pass out.
"Just kidding," I say as if he could ever get that lucky with the likes of me.
Kids have no sense of humor; so uncomfortable in their skin. I never want to be young again.
“Go Padres!” I called out as I left the store.
My mother-in-law would have been in stiches.. Especially the part about the Padres t-shirt since she was an avid Braves fan. She had a wicked sense of humor. I remember once she looked at me very seriously and asked, “What do you think about Red China?”
“I’m not sure,” I said, taken aback a bit since she was not very political.
“Well, I think it looks great on a white table cloth,” she said.
We laughed. Out loud.
The day after my shopping experience, she passed peacefully in her sleep. Good night, sweet Mary. I’ll miss you.