Wednesday, July 30, 2008

god at the grocery store.

So, I don't know what the heck is wrong with me lately, but I've been experiencing what I shall henceforth describe as Perpetual PMS, or PPMS. (My dear gentleman readers, perhaps this would be an opportune time to Google "baseball," "sportscars," or, um, "bikini models." I shall take no offense whatsoever should you bid me adieu at this juncture.)

Now, I must toot my own horn here for a moment and proclaim that I am not a Hormonal Monster of Tyrannical Proportions when I have PMS. The Ross-a-tron will attest to this fact. I do not get mean. I do not get moody. I do not get accusative, sulky, or bitchy. In fact, when I get PMS, what I really get is an urge to clean. That's right. My apartment is as tidy as can be when I have PMS.

So, what stereotypical symptom do I have when PMS rears its head?

I get a bit weepy. And sentimental. And...soft. I cry at insurance company commercials (especially State Farm's--Yes! I want to cry to the television screen. Yes, I AM in good hands! Thank you for being concerned about my needs! Oh, thank you!). I want to send emails to everyone I know and love and tell them just that: that I love them and am so glad they're in my life. And I get emotional when I see older people. Grandma and Grandpa-type people.

So, lately, I've been experiencing PPMS for some reason. Hence, the nostalgic and sentimental feelings that led me to Google people from my past (see yesterday's post). And one of those State Farm insurance company commercials came on yesterday morning while I was eating my breakfast, and I could feel my eyes start to leak. Not a lot. Just a bit. But leak they did.

So, last night, around 9 p.m., I went to the grocery store. I shop at night because it's less crowded and much better for my nerves. (City grocery shopping can be like an Olympic sport sometimes, so I try to go when the Main Event is over [never on the weekend and always after 9 p.m.]) And it was in aisle 11A (Ice Cream, Frozen Pizza, Frozen Breakfast Foods) that my PPMS went full tilt.

There he was. This precious Grandpa-type. Pushing his cart. Slowly. Away from the ice cream section. I peaked as inconspicuously as possible into his cart: a couple of pieces of fruit, some bread, milk, and ice cream.

Not Breyers. Not Ben & Jerry's. Not even Turkey Hill.

The value brand. Which is actually called Valu Time. The flavor? Cookies n' Cream.

And my eyes got this leaky, stinging feeling. The Ross-a-tron looooooves Cookies n' Cream. It's his favorite. But it must, must, must be Breyers. So why was I emotional at the sight of this lovely old man and his grocery cart? And why was I so concerned about the brand of his ice cream?

Because when I see older people, especially if they're alone, I get incredibly sad. Genuinely, heart-achingly sad. I instantly think of my grandparents (God rest their beautiful souls). My Nana, my Pappap, and my Grammee. And I think about how much I miss them. And I think about my Pappap, who lived alone after my Nana died. And I imagine him shopping, cooking, eating, being...all alone. And I imagine them struggling to pay their bills. Social Security checks aren't much. And they'd lived through the Depression, a World War, other wars, etc. Older people have had experiences that many of us will never be able to comprehend.

So when I saw this older man pushing his cart, my heart started to ache for what he might have experienced in his life. And I imagined that he couldn't afford the more expensive brand of ice cream. And it broke my heart. I imagined him going home to an empty house, scooping out two or three clumps of the ice cream and putting it in his favorite bowl, and plopping down in his easy chair. In front of the television. Alone. But happy that he had his ice cream. Happy that he was alive to enjoy it, regardless of what brand it was.

And I thought about my own life. Yes, dear readers. I thought about my life in the thirty seconds I spent in the proximity of this man in aisle 11A. I thought about how wasteful I am. I thought about how I should buy the cheaper brand sometimes, but don't. I thought about how blessed I am to have "things" and a beautiful apartment and wonderful friends and a loving family. And Breyers ice cream in my freezer. Yes. Right now.

And on the drive home I decided that I didn't want to imagine that man alone, struggling to pay his bills and only being able to afford Valu Time ice cream. What if, I asked myself while sitting at the traffic light at the corner of S. Negley and Ellsworth, what if he was picking up ice cream to take home for himself and his beautiful wife of 53 years to enjoy. Together. On their back porch. While talking about their 5 grandchildren. And listening to the quiet breathing of their dog and loving companion, Sparky, who is sleeping at their feet. What if he was buying the Valu-Time ice cream so he could put just a little bit more money aside for his grandkids' college funds?

My point in all of this is that I need to learn to trust more. I need to try to believe that others are provided for, taken care of, and thankful for whatever it is that they have--be it a roof over their heads or Valu Time ice cream. And I need to be reminded of just how blessed I am. I spent $80 at the grocery store tonight. I bought some "extras" that I didn't really need: Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls, Nature Valley Granola Bars, two boxes of Stouffer's French Bread Pizzas instead of one. Some people have to make $80 stretch through the entire month for their groceries. I spent it in less than an hour.

So, maybe I don't have PPMS after all. Maybe it's just God's little way of tapping at the door of my heart. Maybe He's just reminding me that there are blessings all around, that there is goodness, abundance, and love. So I have a soft heart. So I worry about people, even strangers. So I get a little misty-eyed when I see commercials that focus on caring for others (even if it is insurance). So what?

I am in good hands. And I must trust that others are as well.

Yesterday's Gratitude:
1. my job
2. money for groceries
3. the man in aisle 11A
4. my digital camera
5. Picasa

with love from Pittsburgh,
Laura

3 lovely bits o' feedback.:

Be the change..... said...

awww, I find myself getting this way at times too (and I don't even get PPMS!) I'm the same way with older people just like you mentioned and I would have been just as upset! Woudln't anyone? Maybe we read too much into things! How can we be so alike? LOL
I like that you turned an experience like that into something positive -thats so important!

Ross said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Meg said...

Honey, you got me crying at my desk! This was beautifully written reflection of God's wonder and of your beautiful take on the world. I love the lesson that you took from this. It is true, we project thing onto people, but the reality may be very different.

Yes, he most certainly is having ice cream on the porch with "his bride". And they have a fluffy pomeranian that waits for any drips off their spoons.

I have decided that he had to buy the Valu Time because it has less milkfat in it then the more rich brands and he feels this can justify his ice cream jones to his doc who is always on his case. Because they have to have dessert.

My grandparents have dessert at both lunch and dinner. Everyday. And my dad's dad (God bless his soul) was such a regular at his local Bruester's that they knew his order.