I made the rounds of all my Saturday places today. After a crucial stop at the Vet’s place to secure my dog’s medicine, I went snow-panic shopping at Hy-Vee. On the sidewalk outside of the grocery store, two men in their 70s flanked shopping carts full of donated food and a table with a banner which read, CATHOLIC CHARITIES FOOD DRIVE. One of them smiled in my direction, and I said, So: I’m a recovering Catholic, what do you want from me? and he laughed. I’ve never heard that phrase, he admitted. Does that mean you’re on the way to Heaven? I shook my head, returned his smile and said, I’ll bring some food out, and he promised that if I did, he would give me a hug. As long as you don’t pray over me, I cautioned, and both of the men looked amused.
In the store, I collected cans of what I imagined would help a foodbank: Corn, beans, beets, tomatoes. All store-brand and salt-free. When I checked out, I told the cashier to segregate the canned goods into their own bag. Donations? He asked it without expecting any answer but yes, and I gave it. Thank you for that, he told me, quite seriously, as though he meant it. I told him I come all the way to HyVee because they have Sunflower Seed Butter, and his face beamed. The kind without added sugar, right? His question hit the mark and we nodded to each other: Kindred spirits.
Outside the store, I steered my cart to the Catholics and one of them held his arms open for that promised hug while the other took the two bags of canned food. I’m not praying for you, the man insisted. I didn’t believe him, but I didn’t care, either. I made my way to the car and unloaded my own groceries. When I turned, one of the two men had followed me and asked if he could help me by returning my cart. I let him.
Three hours later, I’d bought a book at Mysteryscape; a skirt at Pete ‘N Repeat, and a cup of coffee at Latte Land. I pulled into the parking lot of Savers at about 3:00 p.m., intending to look for white coffee mugs. As I walked to the store, a young woman exited and said to me, You look really cute today! I felt a warm flush spread from my face to my belly. I struggled to speak and when I found my voice, said only, Thank you. She could not be deterred. She smiled, a wide, unbridled grin and replied, You’re welcome!
An hour later, unloading my purchases from the back of the Saturn, I realized that I had just gone an entire day without thinking one unpleasant thought. I stood in the driveway, feeling the first sting of a light evening snow. The sun glowed in the western sky, and a wind fluttered the flag on its pole in the bracket on the pillar of the porch. The stillness surrounded me. I closed my eyes and let the air ease what remained of the tension in my face. It might return. But for that moment, it had been vanquished and I felt clean, and sweet, and peaceful.
What a lovely story, made even nicer by the fact that it happened to someone so deserving of positive feedback. Your efforts are paying off!
For some reason, I no longer get notified of comments. So I find them quite by accident and they are all the more enjoyable for it!