As I was doing my grocery shopping in
Ukrop’s Martin’s two weeks ago, I noticed an elderly woman in the produce department who seemed to be struggling. What caught my attention was the fact that she looked like she was trying her hardest to stand on her tip-toes, an unusual set of movements for a woman over 70.
I quickly realized that she was attempting in vain to reach something. I couldn’t see what it was from the side of the aisle in which I stood. I hastily made my way around to where she was, and said “Ma’am, do you need help with something?”
She seemed very happy and relieved someone had stopped. She chuckled and said “I want that right there,” extending a bony finger in the direction of an onion that had rolled to the back of the very top of the display. I retrieved it for her, she thanked me profusely, and I said I was happy to assist.
The very next week, I was pushing my cart near the front of the store when I passed the canned goods aisle and an even older woman caught my attention with a telltale tip-toe attempt.
I hurried over to her and asked if she needed anything, just as she was precariously stepping up onto the bottom shelf to try to get to the top row of items. She said she had had tried three times to get the last can of succotash, but hadn’t been able to obtain it. I was able to grab it fairly easily, although even I had to stretch a bit to snag it.
As the can passed from my hand to hers, I spotted a now-slightly-too-big wedding band. I thought about the fact that her husband was probably deceased, and how there were so many little, everyday things in her life that were increasingly difficult to do. Especially alone. I thought about my own mom, and how she’s been without my dad now for over 11 years.
Then I thought about how, no matter how trying my week had been, no matter how disappointingly selfish my friends’ and acquaintances’ behavior is, and no matter how unsatisfying certain aspects of my life may be, in the final analysis, I am very lucky.
To have the good fortune to be in a position to help two elderly women in consecutive weeks, just by sheer happenstance, is truly a blessing for which I am incredibly grateful.
None of the other things matter much compared to that.