I took my elderly, but physically and mentally capable, parents on a grocery trip today. As we approached the supermarket, Ma reminds, “Don’t forget to take a basket this time.”
“OK, I know.” my father obeys.
Wondering why an 85-year-old man has to carry a week’s worth of groceries, I bite.
“Why does Dad need a basket? Don’t you guys push a carriage?”
My ‘what will the neighbors say’ Mom explains that they sometimes split up in the grocery store. Evidently, Dad meets back with his haul for a couple of aisles. When he unloads his arms, he also takes items out of his pant pockets. To him, those pockets are a practical and smart way to transport his personal selections. To my mother, it’s a criminal and front page police news article that will transport him to the slammer.
We arrive at our destination and even though I’m driving, we all agree on a space.
I was ready for my walk around the store.
My mother starts off by heading to aisle 4 and my father stops in dairy. He looks at all the butter and selects nothing. We find my mother looking at oils. She asks why he wrote canola on the list? They’ve been buying vegetable for 60 years?
I think my jailbait father was trying to justify his culinary spontaneity as I went back to the dairy aisle to find some yogurt.
A few minutes later, I find my father doing time at the deli and my Mom cutting down aisle 12. I think the efficiencies are now kicking in.
She zig-bags back for half-and-half while he takes his basket toward 12 for hard crust bread.
I decide to use the time to pick up candy for the office. I tell them I’ll meet them in produce.
When I find them, they are discussing the lasagna. He already looked. She looks too. His favorite pre-prepared lasagna splurge is nowhere to be found.
Or so I thought.
There is plenty of lasagna, just none packaged with his expected two meatballs. My mother moves into management mode and pulls someone from behind the counter. I lean on a paper towel display to absorb the situation. It is explained for the third time.
The counter help thinks she’s helping when she points out the lasagna.
“There aren’t any meatballs my mother explains.”
“Oh! I can put that combination together for you in just a moment.”
She moves back behind the counter as my father says, “Thank you. I love that spinach lasagna.”
“Ahhh, spinach lasagna. That’s a different story. I can show you where that is.”
So, with that over and us no longer near produce, my father states he’ll be right back with celery and a green pepper.
My mother goes to the back of the store to pick out a pork loin.
I hang out with the turkeys and pumpkins. They too are waiting for their big moment to leave.
Feeling like a lost child, I remained in the spot where I last saw my parents. They both come back. My mother references her short grocery list for the fifteenth time. I think we are all set.
“Do we need anything else?” she asks.
Sounding like a lost child, I hear my father whisper: “I’d like some apple cider.”
“I looked for it earlier. I even asked. It’s down the first aisle with the milk. They only have it in gallons.” She is very matter-of-fact.
My adult father is back and explains there are probably half gallons near the apples.
I tell my mom I’ll circle back with my dad and we’ll be right back. We walk arm-in-arm to produce. I feel like I’ve been there before.
We quickly find the cider, put it in his basket and head back to meet my mother at the carriage.
The carriage is where we left it. My mother is not.
We stay where we are and wait.My father unloads his basket. We wait. We wait. We wait.
Here she comes…and she too has found a HALF gallon of cider!
One culinary equation is solved twice.
I announce that I’m checked out, I mean, checking out.
The errands with my parents had become a chore. I was trippin’ and felt like a basket case.