Friday, March 26, 2010

Of Groceries and Papa

You know how sometimes you go through the grocery store with someone? Somehow, your shopping trip was planned in sync. Produce; bump carts, pleasant, "Oh! Excuse me." Bulk foods; squeezing in to the same skinny aisle. Toiletries; checking coupons, standing back a bit from the products while you price check. Then you skip an aisle, thinking your rhythm would be off because they for sure have to buy doggie treats. Nope. They don't need anything from the stinky pet lane. Now to the pharmacy where you stand and compare boxes. Yes, runny nose, no chest congestion. Yes, sinus headache, no achy joints. And so on. You glance over your shoulder to make sure you are in no one's way, when you see your friendly twin shopper staring confusedly at her own set of boxes and bottles. And so it goes, all the way through the store. Sometimes, you'll even become shopping buddies, "Can you reach that for me?" or "Do you know if this lotion is greasy?"

Today, my parallel shoppers were an old couple--probably in their seventies. I knew they were there, but didn't really look at them until we were 2/3rds of the way through the store. I made some gamely comment about our tour of duty and they both laughed and made a quick reply. It was then that I really took notice. The woman didn't really remind me of my Grandma, except she was sweet and smelled good, but the man? He looked so much like my Grandpa, that I gasped and had to stop my cart. His silvery white hair was thick and combed neatly into place. He was tall and barrel chested, and when he smiled, his eyes got all squinty behind his large, squarish glasses.

Realizing he was a total stranger and would have thought I was a bit of a nut if I ran up to him and hugged him tightly around the waist, I forced myself to walk on. But then, as I stood looking blindly at the spices, tears stung my eyes and I wished he was my Papa.

Papa was the most celestial man I've ever known. Everyone loved him. . . I mean everyone, because he loved us. One could not resist his warm smile and kind words. He was six stories high and had a booming voice to match. My mom says he was a perfect father and I believe it. I wish so much that my children could have known him, could have felt him sing (yes, you heard and felt his beautiful bass voice), could have been tossed up on his shoulder like a "sack of sugar" and could have heard him proclaim to the world that they are the prettiest/funniest/most talented creature that ever walked the face of the earth.

So, thank you to my grocery store companions for reminding me of a man I love dearly. Today I am thinking about, loving, and missing

My Papa.


  1. OK, thanks for making my eyes all red and puffy before my visiting teachers come over soon! And I also knew that to him, I was the 'prettiest/funniest/most talented creature that ever walked the face of the earth.' I too wish my kiddos and even husband could have met him. Someday. :o)

  2. Oh Emily... what a lovely tribute to that giant of a man. I think of him every single day. He still continues to affect the world, thru all that knew him. I will love him forever.

  3. What a wonderful post! The year after my step-grandpa died -- and he was so wonderful that I married a man he would have approved of and who also reminds me of him -- my mom, stepdad & I did a trip together. When we got back in the U.S., we stepped off of our plane to find an elderly gentleman in the walkway who seemed to be looking for someone. And he looked almost exactly like Grandpa Jack (think Ronald Regan but with stark white hair). The three of us found ourselves surrounding him and staring at him, then at each other, then back at him. No one had to say anything. It was hard to walk away. Grandpa Jack had planned on taking the trip with us.

    U-Dad never met him, and I regret that SO much. It was too early in our relationship for those kind of intro's yet.

    Sorry. I didn't mean to make this about me. It just *really* struck a chord.

    Love this post.