Monday grocery shopping is a tradition here. Years ago, I took these trips by myself. Then I took them with one baby. Then I took them with a baby and a toddler. When there were three, I postponed my trips until evening and went shopping alone again so I didn’t have to manage three little ones by myself. Now, with the kids in school, I’m taking the trips by myself again.
I notice the moms with babies and toddlers. They walk slowly down the aisles, and often I’ll almost say to one of them, Oh, I have a child who had tantrums like that. Or, Uh oh. Someone sounds tired! I know how that goes!
But then I remember, I don’t have babies anymore. Or toddlers.
Then I notice the old people. Lots and lots of old people. Some walk slowly, without much emotion on their faces. Some look downright crotchety, rolling their eyes and tightening their jaws if I meet them coming out of an aisle. Some are riding along on their Amigos, beeping as they back up and using a cane to knock something off a shelf.
I don’t often talk to them, but I think.
I’ve been the single young adult.
I’ve been the mom with little kids.
The next stage, I guess, will be the elderly woman.
It’s amazing to consider how quickly time passes. When I got out of college, I was thrilled to realize that I could go to a grocery store and buy whatever I wanted to eat! It was wonderful! And now, poof. Twenty-five years have flown by, just like that. In twenty-five more, I’ll be the old lady.
Grocery shopping has changed a lot in the past two and a half decades. We’ve moved from paper bags to plastic. Electronic coupons are overtaking paper coupons. Some people even have coupons on their phones. And speaking of phones, many of the people I pass in the store aren’t really attending to what’s going on around them anymore, but instead are yakking on their phones — often about the most inane things: well, do you want honey nut or maple? How did we survive before the advent of the cell phone? And what changes will another few decades bring?
Next time I pass that elderly lady who’s taking too long to move her cart out of the center of the aisle, I’ll give her a few moments of grace. Someday, she just may be me.
I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. — Psalm 37:25