Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Let Me Talk to Your Grandma

It may remind you of the "I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine" theory, except it involves grandmas. Not just any grandma, yours and mine to be exact. The idea came to me the other day in the grocery store, in front of a display of severely green bananas.

A woman around the same age as my grandmother walked up and began eyeing the fruit in question with me. She was the first to speak.
"It always makes me nervous to buy bananas that green," she said, as if we had known each other before this moment.

I had to agree, but found out we had different reasons for our concern. She continued before I could say much more than "yeah.."

"As old as I am, you have to carefully consider whether the fruit you buy will ripen…in time."

I suddenly knew what she was implying and was intrigued by the idea of having your fruit outlive you. We went on to have a pleasant conversation through the rest of the fruit section. She told me about her precious husband ("gone ten years now..") and her hand full of far away grandchildren. She asked about my children and we laughed together about how time seems to have wings. Soon enough we were parting ways, both smiling after such a friendly exchange. Our conversation stayed with me the rest of the day.

I pictured her, probably going home to a tidy little house, full of doilies. I could see her putting away peaches and strawberries in a fridge that was dotted with pictures of grandchildren and possibly great-grandchildren. I guessed she would spend the evening in a quiet house, curled up in a favorite chair, watching a favorite TV show or calling one of her grown children.

As I returned to my own home, vibrating with chattering voices and pulsating with kid energy I thought of my own grandmother, 2000 miles away. It occurred to me that maybe someone there, in her grocery store, had taken the time to have a conversation with her. I hoped they had. I realized that I had done a 'favor' that day for some other granddaughter out there, by slowing down in the fruit section and taking the time to speak to their sweet grandmother.

Times have changed a lot. We aren't around our extended families as much as we used to be. We all have someone 'out there', someone who could use a kind word or uplifting conversation in the everyday places like the grocery store and the drugstore. Maybe it's a grandmother, maybe it's an aunt. Someone we don’t get to call as much as we should and don’t get to see on a regular basis. So here is my proposal.

Let's all agree that we will look out for each other from now on. I promise to make the time to share a moment with the woman in the grocery store who just may be your cherished grandmother. All I ask is that you do the same. When you cross paths with that elderly woman who takes a bit too long digging in her purse for her checkbook, be patient. She may be my grandmother. Share a smile with her and, if you're feeling generous, give her an encouraging word for me. It's a great big world out there, but by looking out for each other maybe we can make it feel a bit more cozy.

My new grandmother friend in the green banana aisle must have some family somewhere who misses her excellent sense of humor and I would like to thank them personally for sharing her with me that day. As we met again in the checkout lanes I asked her what she'd decided about the bananas. Her reply did not surprise me. With a straight face she confidently said, "Yeah, I'm feeling pretty healthy this week. I took a chance and went with the darkest ones I could get."

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