Cat Man Do

Cat Man Do Take 2

I used to think it was totally embarrassing to go out in public with my mom sometimes because she’d have all these little stuffed animals and toys attached to her red walker. I bought her a basket that attached onto the walker to hold all her stuff-like her Wurther’s Original Candy, her Chapsticks, pens and crayons, notepads, tissues and Bingo chips. I even went so far as to buy her one of those Arrooogahhh horns that she could use while walking the halls of the Autumn Village Nursing Home. The basket was a brilliant idea because it offered portability-I simply had to unhook the basket off of her walker whenever we went into a store like a CVS or a Wal-Mart and store it in the trunk of my car.

After looking at this ‘person‘ having stuffed cats glued to her head and back, I’ve come to realize I really didn’t have anything at all to be embarrassed about with my mom. Who knew?

This is another shining example of why People of Wal-Mart is one of my favorite sites on the whole wide world web.

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You Might Be A Redneck…

Apologies to Jeff Foxsworthy, but here goes: 

If you’re buying a pregnancy test while in the check out line at the Dollar Tree store, then you might be a redneck.

I’ve actually seen these pregnancy tests and wondered how accurate they could be?  False Positive?  I think so.  But really…do the results of a $1.00 pregnancy test even matter if you’re buying it at The Dollar Tree store? Seriously. Don’t buy such an important life-changing boxed test just because it’s at eye-level next to the AA batteries in the check out line.

I used to take my mom to the Dollar Tree store at least twice a month.  It was where she got the most bang for her buck.  She loved walking down the aisles and seeing all the stuff she could buy for only a dollar because the price point on nearly everything fell within the range of her monthly fixed income of $60.00.  She bought knickknacks and bags of house branded snacks.  I kept myself occupied during these excursions by hanging out in the candy aisle scoping out limited edition Skittles and Dark Chocolate bars that didn’t sell so well when they were originally introduced for mass market consumption.
The Dollar Tree store was where I found cute little “First Place, Second Place and Honorable Mention” ribbons to give to my co-workers this past Christmas for recognition of their creative quotes throughout the year.  

The Dollar Tree also has a great paper goods section and I loved getting lost looking for really unique gift bags and funny greeting cards that were passed over years ago from American Greetings. The sentiments remained the same.

Since my mother passed away, going into the Dollar Tree store  feels really taboo to me.  I have gone into the Dollar Tree a few times and I swear I can feel the ghost of my mother. She haunts me in the aisles calling out my name and I smile sadly to myself when I see all the ugly little trinkets that she loved so much cluttering up the shelves of seasonal displays.  Quite simply, I shouldn’t be shopping at The Dollar Tree anymore.
And I’m pretty sure that if I suspect I might be pregnant, I’m splurging and buying the pregnancy from the local drugstore.  They just better have the CVS brand in stock or I’m off looking for fuzzy bunnies.

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Tomorrow marks two years since the death of my mom so I’ve been feeling pretty down this week-especially listening to co-workers discuss their travel plans or talk about what they’re cooking for Thanksgiving dinner. 

Granted it was always difficult for me to celebrate major holidays like Thanksgiving and/or Christmas with my mother because it meant I had to go up to the nursing home to pick her up and bring her over to my in-laws for dinner. 

I think back to how I felt for the past eight years on these holidays. Spending Thanksgiving with my mom involved silently dealing with my irritation that residents of the nursing home were virtually forgotten all year long except on the big holidays when families would seem to appear out of nowhere to whisk away their loved ones for a couple of hours.  But if  I’m being honest with myself, I really was just jelous that they chose to live their lives independently from their ailing relatives and I was stuck being the devoted daughter of a mother whose whole life revolved around me. 

I can’t help but remember  that I used to fantasize what Thanksgiving would have been like if I didn’t have to pick her up at the nursing home each and every holiday because I wanted to make it a special day for her.  I thought about no longer having to perform the ritual of signing her out of the nursing home with her packets of controlled-substance antipsychotic medications, helping her into the front seat of my car and loading her walker in the trunk without crushing all the  little things she had affixed to her walker basket. I wouldn’t have to then deliver her to my in-laws where she would have a few bites to eat and eventually complain  to me when my mother-in-law was out of ear shot that she couldn’t chew the turkey because of her “damn dentures not fitting right.” Needless to say, catering to her growing needs each year was never a blessing and always a burden.  

I recall how my mother-in-law would buy scratch tickets and candy bars to give away as prizes while we all sat around playing Bingo (bored out of our minds) with my mom to pass the time after Thanksgiving dinner. We all really made an effort to make her feel welcomed and part of our family celebration. 

But it was strained and irritating. There wasn’t ever a time that I felt she really appreciated my extra efforts on her behalf to make the day special.  I’d end the day with loading her back into the car and driving her back to the nursing home most often trying to hold my tongue when she’d promise to call me later that night for a chat because she was bored again. Invariably I would muse that someday I wouldn’t have to ever do this ever again.  I could have a holiday that didn’t involve visiting her nursing home and dealing with all the inconveniences of trying to make her feel a part of a family celebration.

Spencer and I will be heading over to his parent’s house this afternoon to celebrate Thanksgiving and this will be the second year of only having to look after myself now that my mother is gone.  I’ll sit with his family and enjoy a nice meal.  But the ironic thing is now I’d give just about anything to be able to go back to Autmn Village nursing home and collect my mother for another meal that she couldn’t chew.

I Miss Her Every Day

Today marks the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.

I scheduled a day off from work well in advance of this day because I just didn’t think I’d be able to cope with the demands of work and knowing how I handled today so far, it was a very good idea.

I had wanted to run one of those memorial ads in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, but decided that it would make more sense to honor my mother’s memory by giving a donation to Autumn Village Nursing Home.

I called and spoke to their activities director Donna a few days ago and she welcomed my gift idea saying she was looking forward to seeing me after all this time. She told me the residents would appreciate the gift and how I’d have to check out the new gift shop that just opened. Apparently a little boy who is the son of one of the CNA workers who had known my mother remarked upon seeing the shop, “Oh, Gloria would have loved this!”

Indeed my mother would have LOVED the gift shop because she was always helping out during the monthly bake sale and the quarterly yard sales. She loved helping sell crafts made by the residents and was always so proud of the money she collected.

She’d buy me these little gifts made by the residents that I truly had no use for, but I never had the heart to tell her I didn’t want any of them. For years I went through an enormous amount of effort trying not to hurt my mother’s feelings or her good intentions.

She bought me hand-made wooden pins, toilet paper holders, a sign with a pig sitting on a toilet reading the newspaper, a cutting board in the shape of a pig, knitted towel holders and countless other things that she thought I might enjoy. I took every gift home without her ever knowing my true feelings-that these things made me so very sad because it reminded me of the people who made them. These crafts were made with so much love and for the most part were the only things a person in the nursing home was able to give to their loved ones aside from their neediness and heartbreaking stories. I didn’t want to look at these things let alone have them around my house.

Walking into Autumn Village this morning hit me hard. I was surprised by the sudden onslaught of emotions just driving into the parking lot. Things had changed since last November. For one thing, the half circle in front of the entrance now had a sign saying, “For Patient Drop Off Only” and there were little neon traffic cones in spaces that I had parked a gazillion times. It brought back memories of the countless times of parking in the front so my mother could shuffle out with her bright red walker and I could help pull her legs into the passenger’s seat all the while listening to her gasps of pain as she bended her body into what would slowly become an uncomfortable position for her over time.

As I started walking to the first set of double doors I was flooded with the memories of standing out there in the freezing cold waiting to be buzzed in after a Tuesday or Friday night shopping adventure. My mother would swear up a storm because either the nurses or the aides were too lazy (in her estimation) to come open the locked door. She’d stand there seeing the ashtray just outside of the entrance and wince in displeasure over the smokers and their disgusting habit of course never seeing how ironic it was that she was one of those disgusting smokers for 75% of her life.

This same entryway this morning had two workmen on ladders blocking the entrance doing some sort of improvements. All I could think about was how fascinated my mother was with the little baby monitor video surveillance camera the nursing home had installed during the last few months of her life. We’d stand in the entryway waiting to get let in and my mother would rant about how certain nurses surely had seen us waiting from the nurses station and just to spite her wouldn’t come to the door to let us in. She was a woman of many suspicions-especially when she was in the throes of her mania from manic depression.

I walked through the entrance and headed straight for the receptionist window. Standing there was Donna the activities director talking to an older lady that looked very familiar to me, yet I couldn’t place her name or face. (After a years time, would I recognize any of these residents when before I was on a first name basis with practically all the first floor staff and residents?) She glanced in my direction and gave me the biggest smile of recognition. Walking towards her felt like walking underwater. Suddenly I found myself being embraced by Donna and I erupted into huge uncontrollable sobs which startled me. (I think I heard her tell the other woman, “Oh, this is Gloria Silva’s daughter” and maybe the woman recognized the name…maybe not. But she smiled and I clung on to Donna for dear life.) I remember looking over Donna’s shoulder and seeing the newly opened gift shop and I knew without a doubt that I HAD TO LEAVE NOW! I pushed the Christmas card into Donna’s hand and said between sobs that I just couldn’t stay. Spencer put his arm around me and I walked out of there as fast as I could without looking back once.

As we drove away, I realized with disappointment that I wasn’t strong enough to walk through the nursing home to my mother’s wing to visit Helen who I had seen was still in her same room facing the parking lot. Helen who had told me that she had found out my mother passed away in the night because she looked up from her bed to see the undertakers rolling my mother’s body out of the room and how she cried the whole night long. Helen who had crocheted me the most beautiful baby’s blanket when I was pregnant and who promised to teach me to crochet when I was up to coming back for a visit after my mother’s death. After my mother died, I had bought this little teddy bear at Cape Code Crafters that was wearing a dress stitched with the name ‘Gloria’ that I had wanted to bring up last Christmas to Helen, but was never able to bring myself to do. The bear still sits on my dresser in the bedroom and reminds me of what I can’t face yet.

I miss my mother every day and think about her all the time. This grief that I carry around inside of me seems to always be percolating just at the surface threatening to spill at the most inappropriate times-standing over a co-worker and realizing her hands look exactly like my moms which speeds me back to the night I sat by my mother’s side tenderly stroking her hand while she thrashed about in agony never of course knowing that this was going to be the last night I held her warm hand. Driving home and hearing a Billy Joel song on the radio that reminds me how I played one of her favorite Cd’s ‘The Piano Man’ to try to help calm her during the last hours of her life. I wonder to this day did she hear him sing ‘Travelin’ Prayer’ as she was dying? I’d like to think so.

Hey Lord, take a look around tonight And find where my baby’s gonna be
Hey Lord, would ya look out for her tonight ‘Cause she is far across the sea
Hey Lord, would ya look out for her tonight
And make sure she’s gonna be alright
And things are gonna be alright with me

Hey Lord, would you look out for her tonight
And make sure all her dreams are sweet
Hey Lord, would ya guide her along the roads
And make them softer for her feet
Hey Lord, would ya look out for her tonight
And make sure that she’s gonna be alright
Until she’s home in here with me

Hey Lord, would you look out for her tonight
If she is sleepin’ under the sky
Hey Lord, make sure the ground she’s sleepin’ on
Is always warm and dry
Hey don’t you give her too much rain
But try to keep her away from pain
‘Cause my baby hates to cry

Hey Lord, won’t you look out for her tonight’
Cause it gets rough along the way
Said Lord, if this song sounds strange
It’s just because I don’t know how to pray

So won’t you give her peace of mind
And if you ever find the time
Won’t you tell her I miss her ev’ry day

You can never have too much sugar

There was a time in my life when I thought I’d never have to buy sugar again. But there I was in the grocery store last night pulling a name brand box of sugar packets off the shelf and placing it in the basket with a rueful smile on my face.

My mother was obsessed with sugar for two reasons: she loved stealing sugar packets from the nursing home to give me and unfortunately over time developed a crack-like addiction to using the artificial sweetener Equal in her coffee. (I’ll save the Equal story for another time.)

While living in the nursing home, she’d get the standard (2) white packets of sugar with every meal and since she never used real sugar in her coffee, she strangely started saving the sugar for me because she knew that I used it in my morning coffee. She proudly told me on more than one occasion, “You’ll never have to buy sugar again.”

I can’t recall how it all started, but it became our routine every Tuesday and Thursday that she’d secretly hand me a little plastic trash bag filled with sugar along with an occasional package of cheese crackers. The contents of the bag grew overtime to include various flavors of jelly for my breakfast toast along with peanut butter, miniature packs of Oreo cookies (a special commodity indeed) and eventually the little plastic dosage cups that held her daily medicine.

She continued to gather. I think in her mind she felt this was her way of giving back to me because she couldn’t offer me anything tangible other than her love and the condiments she stole from the nursing home. The funny thing with my mom’s obsession with sugar is she didn’t see any harm in taking something that the nursing home wasn’t going to miss. “Those bastards just throw it away if no one uses it. What a waste! Why can’t I just give it to you?”

Yet she would rant and rave if one of the poor afflicted elderly folk cursed with Alzheimer’s took more than their fair share of snacks to store in their nightstand. She’d vigilantly keep watch for known offenders and promptly report them to the nursing staff if she saw them coming out of the kitchen area with bulging pockets and boxes of Mott’s apple juice in each hand. She’d complain, “That’s meant for everyone!” while at the same time taking four sleeves of chocolate chip cookies to give to me later when no one was looking.

Eventually she started seizing other resident’s leftover condiments and what was once a small trash bag grew to a CVS-sized plastic bag filled with wonders. In time her friends would give her theirs and my sweet bounty grew. I absolutely detested receiving the bag of goodies every time I visited the nursing home because it meant that I’d have to take the bag home and sort through everything to find a place for it. In time my kitchen cupboards became engorged with sugar and jelly packets. I had so much of the stuff that I swore I’d never have to buy sugar again. (I secretly feared that someone would think me a hoarder were they ever to open a cabinet and see just how many sugar packets I had.) It got so bad that I found myself storing the sugar packets in the most unusual of places such as my blessedly deep unused lobster pot in the basement.

You might wonder why I never just threw the bags of sugar and jelly away? If you knew my mother, the thought would never cross your mind. Somehow had that motherly knack of catching me in a lie. She had the keen ability to inquire after a gift she’d given me some five years ago and there would be hell to pay if I couldn’t reproduce said gift immediately. She dealt out guilt as easily as she gave me sugar packets and it was never a line I wanted to cross with her.

The worse bag sorting were the times when my mother grew lazy and I’d become complacent. She’s place empty soda cans inside the bag without having first washed them so that the liquid spilled out and collected in the bottom of the bag. She’d sometimes put slightly opened packs of jelly in the bag which would attach itself to the white sugar packets to become a sticky mess. There were more times than I care to admit that sticky hands got the best of me because I forgot to look inside the bag before I reached in to begin sorting.

Because I took on the responsibility of doing her laundry, she’d sometimes forget and throw a dirty bra of hers in the bag alongside the sugar and jelly packets. At times sorting through the bag was so overwhelmingly irritating that I’d just leave it in a basement corner to deal with later. It was only when my mother complained that someone was stealing her bras that I’d think to look in one of those discarded bags to find the missing bra soaked with grape jelly and remnants of Coca-Cola.

I tried to explain to my mom without hurting her feelings that I didn’t need anymore sugar. She’d stop for a few weeks in sullen protest and I’d have a reprieve, but eventually she’d start collecting again because she must have reasoned my sugar supply was getting dangerously low.

By sheer coincidence I found an outlet for the ever-accumulating dosage cups in the most unlikely of places-my mother’s hair stylist. During one visit, I was teasing my mother about my black trash bag filled with cups when her hairdresser offered to take them for her daughter’s classroom because they were the ideal size to hold paint for art class projects. I was delighted.

But the glow of usefulness quickly turned to irritation because I would catch hell from my mother on the rare occasion that I would forget to bring the accumulated bag of dosage cups to her hair appointment. And I must admit that sometimes I forgot on purpose because I could clearly see that my mother’s growing collection of pill cups was slowly overwhelming the Leicester school system. Our kindly stylist just couldn’t bring herself to say, “Gloria, enough is enough.”

My mother-in-law also helped by bringing the sugar packets and jelly to a local women’s shelter. She raved about how useful these things would be for the battered women, but I was doubtful that a little raspberry jelly would ease their distress. It did, however, free up a few containers in my kitchen and to my mind was the most important gift of all.

After my mother died and I began the painful process of sorting through her possessions, I began to get a leg up on my inventory of sugar packets. I ended deciding to just let go and found myself heaving shopping bags filled with sugar packets, jelly and cups into the trash feeling guilty for throwing away something perfectly useful, but knowing perfectly well that I still had more than enough to last me for quite a long while—or so I thought.

It wasn’t until two months ago when I went searching for another stash of sugar packets that I realized I had finally run out. It was inevitable that I dealt with the expected sadness and grief in knowing that once again my mother was right: “You Can Never Have Too Much Sugar.”

Grand-Opening

Who would have thought a visit in passing to a newly launched Walgreens store on West Boylston Street would find me draped over the steering wheel crying my eyes out?

Of course the uncontrollable weeping was held at bay until I got into the privacy of my trusty Mazda 3, but I sure would have been a sight if someone had happened upon me in the Seasonal aisle wracked in sobs of grief over my dead mother. I’m telling you, I nearly lost it coming across a box of imported-from-China battery-operated hand-held personal fans.

She loved Walgreens and I hated that store with a passion. I used to get really irritated when one of the old ladies at the nursing home would give her a copy of their weekly advertisement from the Sunday Telegram because it always meant my mom pleading with me to visit Walgreens to pick up some of their sale items which they invariably NEVER had in stock. I can’t even convey the extent of my arguments with my mom over something not being in stock. It usually went something like this:

“But it’s in the paper. They’ve got to have it. It’s on sale!”
“No, ” I would try to reason, “They make up these ads months in advance and just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean they’re going to have it.”
“Maybe it’s in the back?”
“No, it’s not. They don’t have it.”
“I’ll go ask someone.”
“Well, you can go ask someone, but they’re not going to have it.”

It would go on and on like this. She would insist and I would try to reason with her, but in the end my voice would rise in frustration, we would start swearing at each other and eventually she would just get really pissed off at me and storm off into another section of the store.

Our most infamous battle was over the aforementioned battery-operated fan. She wanted it so much because when you hit the Go button, the fan would spin around really fast and make this bright, LED colored light show. It was kind of groovy and psychedelic to just stare at it and I think that’s why she wanted it so much. I, of course, thought it was the biggest waste of her money because she would use it once, get bored with it and then want to give it to me as a gift.

Sometimes I would break down and take her to the only local Walgreens which was on Park Ave in Worcester. I feared for our safety going to that store because of its location and wouldn’t have been surprised if during one of our visits, we were involved in a violent stick up while my Mom was buying a bag of Strawberry Creme Savers.

But every time we went there, she would look for that damned hand-held personal fan. She just kept thinking that they’d get it back in stock. It didn’t matter that it was the middle of Winter, she wanted that fan and was determined to buy it. I just couldn’t get her to understand the retail marketing strategy of the Seasonal aisle. Winter months featured Christmas decorations and Valentine’s Day candy. Spring brought Easter decorations and Jelly Beans…not personal hand-held fans that gave off light shows. That was reserved for our hottest months and there was no guarantee that who ever supplied these cheaply made fans would continue to supply Walgreens with the same design year-after-year.

I remember when I showed her this soon-to-be opening Walgreens on West Boylston Street. I happily said, “See? We can go there anytime you’d like because it’s so close and much safer than the one on Park Ave.” She was excited that I was willing to take her to Walgreens without any fuss and was looking forward to when the store opened.

I forgot all about the new Walgreens after she died this past November. I’d pass it every so often and see it’s construction progress. But I had no interest in visiting Walgreens. After all, in the food chain of discount drug stores, Walgreens gets the lowest position because it’s just a junk store that never has advertised sale items in stock. Here’s my current ranking:

  • CVS Pharmacy
  • Target
  • Brooks Pharmacy
  • Any supermarket drug store section
  • Wal-Mart
  • Walgreens

But tonight on the way home, we decided to stop into the newly opened Walgreens to check it out. To tell the truth, they had advertised a new SKITTLES flavor: Limited Edition Carnival and I just had to hit that. But rest assured, they didn’t have it. And right after being disappointed, I found myself wandering over to the Seasonal aisle and that’s when my hidden grief over losing my mom to cancer back in November hit me like a ton of bricks. That stupid personal fan. There it was tucked up on a shelf–boxes and boxes of them waiting to be advertised and bought by anyone else other than my mother.

I paid for my purchases and got back into the car. I gripped the steering wheel and just let the dam burst. I never would have thought during all those annoying shopping trips we took together that going shopping with my mother to a Walgreens would be one of the things I miss most now that she’s gone.

I would have told you were she still alive and well that I hated taking my mom shopping every Tuesday and Friday for these past eight years because it was always a source of massive frustration. I’d bargain with her over what she could and couldn’t buy in the store like she was my five year old daughter. Sometimes I would buy what she wanted just to shut her up so I could get some peace. Other times I would lie and tell her the store didn’t have something because I knew she really didn’t need to waste what little money she had on yet another $5.99 t-shirt. (She had to have every color Hanes t-shirt made, one color was never enough) Other times I would leave her to sit in the car while I ran into the store to buy her a bag of candy because I didn’t have the patience to deal with her slow lumbering movements with the walker because I knew that I could be in and out of the store 90% faster than if we both went in together.

As her caregiver and her only child, I know that I did my best for her. But coming across that stupid cheap fan really hit home to what I lost when my mom died six months ago.

Grand-Opening

Who would have thought a visit in passing to a newly launched Walgreens store on West Boylston Street would find me draped over the steering wheel crying my eyes out?

Of course the uncontrollable weeping was held at bay until I got into the privacy of my trusty Mazda 3, but I sure would have been a sight if someone had happened upon me in the Seasonal aisle wracked in sobs of grief over my dead mother. I’m telling you, I nearly lost it coming across a box of imported-from-China battery-operated hand-held personal fans.

She loved Walgreens and I hated that store with a passion. I used to get really irritated when one of the old ladies at the nursing home would give her a copy of their weekly advertisement from the Sunday Telegram because it always meant my mom pleading with me to visit Walgreens to pick up some of their sale items which they invariably NEVER had in stock. I can’t even convey the extent of my arguments with my mom over something not being in stock. It usually went something like this:

“But it’s in the paper. They’ve got to have it. It’s on sale!”
“No, ” I would try to reason, “They make up these ads months in advance and just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean they’re going to have it.”
“Maybe it’s in the back?”
“No, it’s not. They don’t have it.”
“I’ll go ask someone.”
“Well, you can go ask someone, but they’re not going to have it.”

It would go on and on like this. She would insist and I would try to reason with her, but in the end my voice would rise in frustration, we would start swearing at each other and eventually she would just get really pissed off at me and storm off into another section of the store.

Our most infamous battle was over the aforementioned battery-operated fan. She wanted it so much because when you hit the Go button, the fan would spin around really fast and make this bright, LED colored light show. It was kind of groovy and psychedelic to just stare at it and I think that’s why she wanted it so much. I, of course, thought it was the biggest waste of her money because she would use it once, get bored with it and then want to give it to me as a gift.

Sometimes I would break down and take her to the only local Walgreens which was on Park Ave in Worcester. I feared for our safety going to that store because of its location and wouldn’t have been surprised if during one of our visits, we were involved in a violent stick up while my Mom was buying a bag of Strawberry Creme Savers.

But every time we went there, she would look for that damned hand-held personal fan. She just kept thinking that they’d get it back in stock. It didn’t matter that it was the middle of Winter, she wanted that fan and was determined to buy it. I just couldn’t get her to understand the retail marketing strategy of the Seasonal aisle. Winter months featured Christmas decorations and Valentine’s Day candy. Spring brought Easter decorations and Jelly Beans…not personal hand-held fans that gave off light shows. That was reserved for our hottest months and there was no guarantee that who ever supplied these cheaply made fans would continue to supply Walgreens with the same design year-after-year.

I remember when I showed her this soon-to-be opening Walgreens on West Boylston Street. I happily said, “See? We can go there anytime you’d like because it’s so close and much safer than the one on Park Ave.” She was excited that I was willing to take her to Walgreens without any fuss and was looking forward to when the store opened.

I forgot all about the new Walgreens after she died this past November. I’d pass it every so often and see it’s construction progress. But I had no interest in visiting Walgreens. After all, in the food chain of discount drug stores, Walgreens gets the lowest position because it’s just a junk store that never has advertised sale items in stock. Here’s my current ranking:

  • CVS Pharmacy
  • Target
  • Brooks Pharmacy
  • Any supermarket drug store section
  • Wal-Mart
  • Walgreens

But tonight on the way home, we decided to stop into the newly opened Walgreens to check it out. To tell the truth, they had advertised a new SKITTLES flavor: Limited Edition Carnival and I just had to hit that. But rest assured, they didn’t have it. And right after being disappointed, I found myself wandering over to the Seasonal aisle and that’s when my hidden grief over losing my mom to cancer back in November hit me like a ton of bricks. That stupid personal fan. There it was tucked up on a shelf–boxes and boxes of them waiting to be advertised and bought by anyone else other than my mother.

I paid for my purchases and got back into the car. I gripped the steering wheel and just let the dam burst. I never would have thought during all those annoying shopping trips we took together that going shopping with my mother to a Walgreens would be one of the things I miss most now that she’s gone.

I would have told you were she still alive and well that I hated taking my mom shopping every Tuesday and Friday for these past eight years because it was always a source of massive frustration. I’d bargain with her over what she could and couldn’t buy in the store like she was my five year old daughter. Sometimes I would buy what she wanted just to shut her up so I could get some peace. Other times I would lie and tell her the store didn’t have something because I knew she really didn’t need to waste what little money she had on yet another $5.99 t-shirt. (She had to have every color Hanes t-shirt made, one color was never enough) Other times I would leave her to sit in the car while I ran into the store to buy her a bag of candy because I didn’t have the patience to deal with her slow lumbering movements with the walker because I knew that I could be in and out of the store 90% faster than if we both went in together.

As her caregiver and her only child, I know that I did my best for her. But coming across that stupid cheap fan really hit home to what I lost when my mom died six months ago.