Three Supermarkets

29 Jan

I used to love to go food shopping with my mother, which is funny because I despise going now. Despise might be a tad too strong a word, but the way I feel about it now is a sharp contrast to how I did then. My mother Clara was a character and much loved by me. We were in love with each other and going to the supermarket was a wonderful excuse to just be with her. She was a busy woman. She had a job. She worked nights–11 till 7– as a nurse’s aide for 32 years at the same Catholic hospital. She was the Papa Doc president of the PTA at my brothers’ and my elementary school and followed us to our high school. She eventually became the county-wide PTA president–the second Black woman to do so. She was a Cub Scout leader and the president of our block club and my brothers and I had lunch prepared when we came home from school everyday for the midday meal and she had a two-course homemade dinner on the table everyday at 5. I can only imagine what she would’ve been running had she been born twenty years later.
Today I had to pick up a few things at ShopRite, then I needed to go to Whole Foods to get vitamins, organic Kombucha drink and raw honey. On my way home, I realized we didn’t have any Taco shells for dinner so I stopped at the A&P. On my way in, I flashed on those grocery shopping Fridays with my mom. She was an avid coupon clipper and knew what stores had which things on sale in any given week.
“ShopRite has rump roast for two dollars a pound this week…” She’d do some of the shopping there; then it was on to the A&P to pick up a bag of Macintosh apples (the only kind she’d used to make apple pie), then it was Pathmark for who knows what. Today, I found myself smiling as I went into the third store of the day. I miss her at the strangest times.
The other day my Dad, who lives with us and has dementia, called down to the basement for me. He called me Clara. In the almost four years since she died he has never called anybody Clara.
Every night I have to tuck him in, not because he’s feeble, he’s still as strong as the South Carolina farm boy he was, but because he can’t remember where his bedroom is or what to do to prepare for sleep. When I enter his room, there’s a picture of my mother, beaming in her white wedding dress which she bought for their 50th anniversary wedding. Most of the time I smile at her face, oftentimes it’s because of her get-up. She and my dad didn’t have a wedding when they were married almost 60 years ago and she’d always wanted one. True to my mother’s determined spirit she threw herself one, complete with  a brand new wedding dress, the church, my brother Larry walking her down the aisle to give her away, her sisters, daughters-in-law and me as bridesmaids; her grandchildren as various attendants.
I miss her as my mother, sometimes as a friend and many times I miss the unique character that she was. I’ve yet to meet anyone like her.

2 Responses to “Three Supermarkets”

  1. Duane Muhammad January 16, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

    You are truly a wonderful, God-blessed human being! I hope you come to realize that your words, your counsel, your voice, your spirit, Your YOU is so amazing and so invaluable. I truly believe you have yet to realize how much better a place this world is because you are in it. I am sure many of your acquaintances and friends appreciate the Who you are but each time I read your words or see your face or hear your voice I recognize my sister, the angel God sent home with my mother when I was just a little five year old boy. To this day I remember how beautiful you were and I love you today and am as amazed by you today as I was almost 60 years ago. I can’t edit my words because my teary eyes won’t allow me to but if there are any misspellings just know that you are MY sister and I will love you for eternity!


    • Benilde Little January 16, 2015 at 9:18 pm #

      My brother, my big brother, you know I’m crying too. I’m moved beyond words by your beautiful message.

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