I interrupt my writing time to take my 92 year old father-in-law (FIL) and 83 year old mother-in-law (MIL) shopping. My FIL uses a walker and shuffles at a snail’s pace. My MIL moves almost as slow.
I must constantly remind myself Patience, Grasshopper, for one day you will need assistance, too.
We start at the bank, where my FIL and I chat in the car until my MIL returns. Then we drive to the health food store and wait some more. Every time I have to help one of them in and out of the vehicle, it’s pure agony. We’ve only been gone an hour, and we still haven’t reached our main destination.
At Wal-Mart, I park beside the front entrance so my in-laws won’t have so far to walk. I almost – almost – leave the car running and the keys in the ignition. At the very last moment, something tells me to grab the keys and I pocket them. By the time I get around to the passenger side, my FIL has locked himself in the vehicle and can’t figure out how to get out.
After unloading my passengers, I park the vehicle and hurry inside. My MIL is watching for me and the moment she sees me, she races off at a surprisingly fast clip. My FIL decides this is the perfect opportunity to do his own grocery shopping. Soon my arms are filled with cereal and wagon wheels and bananas and bread.
I find a cart and dump the groceries in, but by now my FIL misses his wife. We spot her snow white hair on the opposite side of the store and we start our long journey toward her – shuffling forward inch by inch. Half way to our destination, my MIL disappears up an aisle. By the time we reach the spot where we’ve last seen her, she’s gone.
We search the aisles and finally find her, only to have her race off again. By the time we’ve made a complete circle around the store, we’re both exhausted and agree that it’s time to sit down at the nearby fast food joint.
But the moment we have our coffee and juice in hand, my MIL appears. Strangely, the items in her cart are not bagged, but since she’s headed off to buy herself a coffee, I assume she’s finished shopping and has run her items through the cash register.
We finish our refreshments, which means I’m nearly home-free, and now all we have left is one quick stop at the pharmacy. Then my MIL remembers a few more items she has to pick up. And oh yeah, she still needs to pay for her purchases.
It takes us three and a half hours to do what would normally take me less than an hour. I smile, silently thank my Dad for sharing his patience gene with me, and sit back to wait.
Three and a half precious hours. As far as time goes, it’s a drop in the bucket of my life. My in-laws won’t be here forever. I remind myself Patience, Grasshopper, for one day you will need assistance, too.