This past week, I found myself with about an hour to kill between commitments, so I headed over to a nearby Starbucks; maybe I could squeeze out a few paragraphs before meeting a friend to catch up on the past couple months. Walking to the front door, I noticed a decade-old white SUV in the nearest handicap parking space. Outside the open passenger door, a lady in her seventies – smartly dressed with well kept silver hair – was helping her husband out of the truck.
She waited, patiently, for him to settle into his wheelchair. His motions were deliberate, aching, and slow. When he finally was seated, he slumped forward sharply – very little of his back pressed against the stretch of vinyl intended to support it.
Knowing she would be pushing him to that door, and with all the time in the world to wait, I was determined to make sure I was there to hold it open for them when they made it across the lot. I feigned use of my phone to pass time, stationed conveniently next to the entry, until they arrived at the exact moment I ‘happened’ to be ready to enter the store as well.
They both looked at me and smiled, the lady more than the man, but I think that had a lot to do with their respective capacity for smiling at the moment. When I made eye contact with the lady, as she smiled, a lump grew in my throat. She looked like Mom.
I figured that was the extent of our interaction. I deferred to them to get in line in front of me, though, to which the lady politely thanked me. Immediately after, she proceeded to explain to her husband what each of the baked treats in the glass case were. He was seated too low and slumped forward too far to see for himself, so she patiently leaned down to his ear and listed “they have a brownie…. and a cream cheese brownie…. and they have a cookie… and a lemon cake,” pausing to pop up and survey the rest of the case, “… and rice krispie treats… and…oh! that muffin you like!”
Great, now I’m crying in line at Starbucks.