Supermarket shopping with children can be tortuous. There’s a lot of asking for things. The odd tantrum. There’s the moment you get the final price of your groceries and you nearly faint.
Then there’s the faces of all the other parents. Everyone looks a little harassed. Tired faces, some at breaking point. Little nods are exchanged, looks of knowing. Visits to the supermarket, unless you’re kid-free and then it’s quite freeing for a parent, are just another ground hog chore designed to pull at the edges of your already frayed existence.
This is why what happened recently changed me.
I was at the shopping centre with two of my children. I had just finished grocery shopping and was lining up for cheat’s dinner – sushi. As I stood there chatting with a school mum, I noticed someone out of the corner of my eye. An elderly, Greek woman walking confused toward my trolley. She was hunched and dressed in black. My immediate thought was she was senile.
Then she did something I was not expecting. She reached right into my trolley, grabbed one of my bags out and started to walk away.
“Excuse me,” I said irritably. “What are you doing? That’s not your trolley. That’s mine.”
The little old lady stopped in her tracks, placed the bag back into my trolley and smiled one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen. Her whole demeanour changed. She was in her eighties, but her eyes glistened like a child.
“Oh, I know that,” she said giggling. “I’m very rich. I don’t need your groceries. I just like to play to tricks on people, to make them laugh. Life should be more fun.”
I reached out and touched her gently on the shoulder and started to laugh. “You were tricking me?” I giggle. “I love that. I love that you do that to people. You’ve made my day, actually I think you’ve made my year.”
“I do it all of the time,” she exclaimed. “It makes me feel younger and I love making people smile. I like making Mum’s laugh. They need to laugh.”
And with that she headed off to play her next trick on someone.
People who make their mark on you are no longer strangers. It’s as if they are tailors, mending the fraying edges of your soul. The memory of their spirit fills the little gaps in your heart.
You can choose to make people angry or make them happy.
With every trick she plays, she gets a little extra spring in her frail steps. Young at heart and mind. I want to be that woman.
And that my friends is a story I wanted to share with you, because stories like hers should be told.