She was standing in front of me, just waiting her turn. I was looking at her, from under the brim of my Toronto Maple Leaves ball cap, so she wouldn't feel my stare - didn't want to make her uncomfortable - even from behind. Time was ticking slow for all of us. I knew that everyone had so much to do, but had no choice to exit this line early. The busy season had hit and all had their individual reasons for being here today. She was almost to the point where she was able to start stacking her items on the metallic 12 inches that preceded the lengthy rubber conveyor that led to completion. I wanted to help her - but I was too afraid of insulting her. I didn't want to make her feel that I considered her unable to fend for herself. So, I just stayed still - but couldn't seem to take my hidden eyes off of her.
I thought about what she might be thinking. Was she married? Did she have children - and if so, would they honor her tomorrow? It was almost Easter and all mothers seem to take symbolic pleasures therein. Springtime brings new life not only to the outside world, but also to the inner minds of so many house-dwelling people - those who are internally hoping for something new, something promising, for a change. I wished that whatever her situation was, that she would enjoy her holiday thoroughly - and remember it in its entirety with great fondness. I wanted her to be happy - although I had never seen her before, and probably never will again. My loss, I am sure.
Her shoes were clean, but not new. It looked as if her ankles were at least slightly swollen - they bulged a bit too far to fit the rest of her. Halfway up to her knees, I met the hem of her dress - a mostly-yellow cotton, flowered-print flowing one with a lacy belt tied loosely just under her rib cage. She was little - feeble-looking in fact. I knew that her personality matched her frame as she was also looking dominantly towards the ground in front of her. Her head never moved from side to side. She was just waiting to get through the line like the rest of us - not wanting any attention drawn to herself. She seemed so alone.
Most of the people, including myself, in line, had carts stuffed full of foods, flowers, candies, baskets and more, but her cart had just a few items in it. There was a chicken, some potatoes, 2 fresh ears of corn - and a bottle of white wine. She also had a small bouquet of fresh tulips and 2 candles with her food items - the kind of candles that sit in small glass votives that look like large shot glasses. From these items, I guessed that she would be having little company for the holiday, and that she would be spending it with just one other person - probably her husband. I hoped that she, at least, did have a special someone to share with. I was sure that she must; a mild-mannered beauty like her should never have to be alone.
She began to move her items from her cart to the conveyor, and she seemed to have difficulties bending over. It took both of her small hands, attached to small arms, to life the chicken out of her cart and place it down. She stepped forward to the checkout position and greeted the cashier with a friendly, yet distant, "Hello". It took very little time for the frenzied cashier to whip her items through the scanner and forward them to the waiting bagger. She paid for her items with a some type of check card and was asked by the bagger if she would like assistance to her vehicle. She declined the offer. As she slowly walked towards the exit, I could see that she was using the cart to assist her movement. She seemed quite fatigued - as if she had just completed a very taxing effort.
And then she strayed from my site as I was still placing my own items onto the belt.
Ten minutes later, I was loading my truck with my own heaving cart-full of items. I finished, entered the cab, fired up the engine and drove towards the parking lot exit. It took some time because the lot was filled with others making their ways in and out of the supermarket. As I approached the entrance to the street that would lead me homeward, I spotted the fair lady again.
She was just stepping on the city bus that made several daily stops at the grocery. My first thought was to run out and offer her a ride. I had just assumed that someone was in the parking lot waiting for her - or that she had driven herself. I now understood why she had refused the bagger's offer to assist her. She was riding the bus. I was in parking lot traffic and could not stop. As I turned right into the street, the bus proceeded in front of me. I wondered where she was going - and why she had come to the supermarket alone. Maybe she was without any life company - a small wonder on this large planet with nobody to share with any longer.
Although I could have easily veered left and overtaken the bus, I remained behind it - some part of me longing to see where she would exit - maybe even follow her home to make sure that she arrived safely. Maybe some part of me wanted to know if she was in fact alone for what could likely be her final Easter. I followed for the time that I had to spare - people awaiting my arrival back at home. They were ready to begin preparing the feast, and preparing for all the guests on the way. I turned off the road and found my way home, still wondering if my new found interest was in fact destined to spend tomorrow in her own sole company.
Easter morning was a sunny, delightful one, yet I found myself unable to enjoy it. My thoughts were filled with this proud lady, who, for some reason, so much reminded me of my own passed mother. I was, and am still, filled with a sense of what it must be like to have lived past the times allotted to your loved ones - to remain alone in a world that cares not.
Dear Lady, I wish you joy and contentment. I wish you to not be alone any more.
M Alan Roberts is a radical thinker. He has a gimlet eye for injustice, much as did Frederich Engels, a century and a half before. Still, Roberts finds a way to write effective SEO copy. This suggests both sides of his brain, his mind, work equally well.
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