When Tears Appear In The Check Out Lane

by | May 14, 2016 | Love Others

God will wipe away every tear Revelation 7 17On my way home after a full morning, I stopped at my favorite grocery store.

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.

Much love,


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  1. Teresa Snyder

    Beautiful story…..love when God catches us by suprise Sounds so much like my grandmother that I had. My mom is a lovely person but life has been hard for her since my dad died at 48. God calls us to honor our parents and that means spending time with them even if it isnt always pleasant.

    • Julie Lefebure

      What a gift to still have your mom here, Teresa. I’m praying for you both this evening. May God bless you with many wonderful moments together!

  2. kristine

    Thank you for following your heart and speaking to the lady at the store:) Your sweet words were most likely just what she needed that day. Sometimes in the midst of the daily chaos and frustration, we all need a little help remembering our blessings. I recall countless times as a young mom, getting frustrated in the checkout line with my toddler. Now, when I see moms fighting that battle, I try my best to reach out to them or silently pray for them. Thinking back now, I’d love to have a do-over on some of those early parenting days. Thank you for this Sunday morning inspiration, Julie. Have a blessed day.

    • Julie Lefebure

      You understand, Kristine. Thank you. I’m with you on the toddler end too. I’d love to have a do-over on some of those days as well. It’s a gift when we can encourage others who are walking where we once walked. Thankful for your words here, friend. You are a gift to me!

  3. Tara

    As a crier, I loved this friend. Tears really are a gift!

    • Julie Lefebure

      Me too, Tara. Thanks for allowing me to share with you, friend!

  4. tammy @ faithhopelovefood.com

    I work in senior care…and I loved this post. Thanks for sharing. It sounds like you have some precious memories.

    • Julie Lefebure

      Thanks, Tammy. I’m thankful for these memories. Thank you for all you do for the senior population. What a gift! Thanks for stopping by too!


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