Ahead of me in the check out lane was a woman and her elderly mother. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop. Really. But from what I heard, I could tell the woman, who might have been a handful of years older than me, was losing her patience with her mom. Her tone was sharp. Her sighs were long. Her eyes were filled with frustration.
I couldn’t see her mother’s face, nor hear her words, as her back was turned toward me.
But in that very moment, my thoughts transported me back in time, ten-plus years. Back to the days my mom and I would go shopping together.
I knew exactly how the woman felt.
I had been there. I reluctantly remembered moments when my tone with Mom had become sharp, and when my sighs were long, and when frustration filled my eyes. For years I have regretted–and still do–every one of those selfish moments.
How I wanted to just reach out and touch the woman’s arm to express how I understood.
How I wanted to interrupt her and say something to help change her tone.
How I wanted to somehow remind her moments with our aging parents are priceless, and once they’re gone, one can never get them back.
But instead, the woman’s eyes met mine for a brief two seconds. Words spilled out of my mouth.
“It’s so nice you two do your shopping together.”
I think my words caught both of us off-guard.
Her tone changed, and she responded hesitantly, “Every Saturday. We shop together every Saturday.”
She had no idea Mom and I used to shop together every Saturday, too. My mind took me back farther. To the Saturdays we’d spend going to malls, craft shows, sewing stores, and grocery stores. Oh, how I have missed those Saturdays.
“That’s wonderful,” I responded. “I’d give about anything to be able to do that again with my mom.”
“Yep,” she continued. “We just finished going to the quilt shop and here we are.”
It was then I had to choke back the tears.
She could tell I was struggling. (Seriously… I’m falling apart in the grocery check out lane?? This woman must think I’m nuts.)
All I could say was, “I used to do that with my mom too. She loved to quilt.”
“She does too.” Then she mouthed to me, “She’s 94.”
I knew if I blinked, tears would begin streaming down my face. I had to hold it together. I touched my hand to my heart to gesture my compassion for her.
She continued, “And she just paid for my groceries. She’s a wonderful mom.”
The elderly woman turned to see who her daughter was talking to. She gave me the sweetest smile. Goodness, she reminded me of my mom, but with a little more gray hair.
I smiled back. “You still like to spoil her, don’t you?”
“Every chance I get,” she said. And I couldn’t believe the words I heard her say next… words my mom used to say about me, “She’s so good to me.”
If I could have ran out of the store right then, I would have. This all hit too close to my heart. But somehow I held it together, enough to pay for my own groceries, and make it out to my car.
Sitting in the driver’s seat, I could no longer stop the tears.
Today’s encounter was one of the most precious ones I’ve had since mom left this earth almost ten years ago. I’ve missed her a lot lately, but I wasn’t prepared for this. I wasn’t prepared to be reminded today of the incredibly special relationship we had. And I wasn’t prepared for the tears to flow.
But that’s when I find tears are the most precious… when they come unexpectedly because of fond memories tucked deep within the heart.
I look back to the many special years with Mom, and I cherish every moment I had with her. I loved her dearly, and I miss her presence in my life. Still. I understand how a heart can truly ache. Some day God will wipe every tear away. I look forward to that day.
If I can help just one person by sharing stories such as these, I’ll continue to share them.
Friend, if your mom and/or dad is still with you, may I make a suggestion? Tell them today just how much they mean to you. And if you can, go spend time with them. You’ll never regret doing so.
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