Jun. 29, 2021

ALL IT TAKES IS COMPASSION FOR OTHERS, INCLUDING YOUR MOTHER.

It seems I’ve always been a people-watcher. It probably started when I was in the third grade and the Chief of Police visited our classroom to lecture us about safety.  I loved learning so---I was a good listener, especially when the person speaking held a position of authority.  Not only did he instruct the class to NEVER get in the car with a stranger but to always be aware of our surroundings and especially---the people around us.  He explained that our minds should serve us like Cameras---taking pictures as we stand at the bus stop, or  when we're walking in our neighborhood, or encountering a person acting strange, troubled, or in need of help.

The Police Chief gave us a short lesson in the important details to remember----like a person's approximate Height, Age, Weight, Skin Color, and—any unusual habits or characteristics---like a funny walk or limp or maybe  a funny accent or an odd way of talking. Learning to be an observant detective serves me well, every day…. like two days ago when I was needing a few things from Walmart.....

"They were walking in front of me in the parking lot and I slowed down to accommodate their much-slower pace. The woman seemed fragile and unsure of herself. Her struggle to walk led me to believe her unsteadiness was caused by balance problems or maybe the lasting effects from a stroke.  I wondered why the man beside her wasn’t holding on to her arm to help guide and support her. He, on the other hand, appeared younger and quite-confident in his stride….with his white tennis shorts exposing tan legs that looked smooth and fit. Overall, I decided the twosome consisted of a son, probably in his late fifties, and a mother, who was probably in her early to mid-eighties.  Judging from the bored expression on his face, I felt certain this son was helping his mother out of a sense of duty-- rather than from a respectful and sincere love.

The frustrated woman was trying—unsuccessfully--- to “keep up” with the man.  She must have known he was irritated by the number of times he stopped…looked at her impatiently…then began walking again.  Once inside, he selected a shopping cart for himself before handing the woman a small shopping basket with a handle. I heard him tell the woman: “Take this and go get those disgusting undergarments.  If you have trouble finding them or you can’t reach them---then tell someone to help you. I’ll shop for what’s on the grocery list and I don’t need you along to slow me down.  I’m only going to tell you one more time. Don’t go anywhere else after you get your damn diapers! I expect you to be standing by the pharmacy checkout when I come back to get you---do you hear me?!?!?” The man turned and, pushing his shopping cart in another direction, left the little woman standing in the middle of the shopping cart aisle looking--wobbly, confused, and alone.

By this time, I’d found my own shopping cart and made a decision.  I positioned my shoppinng cart next to the woman…introduced myself as her new friend, removed the shopping basket from her arm, placed it in my cart, and said “Please put your hands beside mine and we can push this shopping cart, together. Since we’re simply--girls at heart--- we just-might-be shopping for the same things and---we’ll have more fun shopping---together”. I was rewarded with the woman’s sudden smile, a loving-pat on my hands, and off we went in search of unmentionables!

I helped the delightful lady find what she needed as we chatted and laughed like girlhood friends. I was right about the man being her son.  Actually he was her only child who lived in Little Rock and visited her two days, once a month.  She was careful to praise rather than criticize her only family member but I sensed her deep-longing for much-more.

I stood with my new friend so she could use my shopping cart to steady-herself as she waited for her son. Seeing me--a stranger-- standing with his mother--seemed to “unnerve” him--and the first thing he said- while looking at me-was: “What’s wrong?  What did she do?”  I just smiled and introduced myself.

Offering a good-bye hug to the now-smiling and bright-eyed Mother---- I quietly addressed her Son with a superficial smile and a brief farewell: “Your unfailing love, respect, and devotion is the only real support your Mother needs. If you can’t give her that-- then next time----get her a damn shopping cart!”