You might think it would have been a dreary and overcast day. It may have been windy or rainy. You might think you would need a coat against the drizzle or scarf against the cold. In reality, the day was splendid. There were a few white, fluffy clouds floating on a light breeze accompanying this cheerfully warm spring day. The weather was absolutely perfect as the old man looked out his living room window. He had woken early this morning the same as every morning for the last sixty plus years of his adult life. He had leaned over to give Anny a kiss before realizing she was not in her normal place in bed. She had been admitted into the hospital almost four weeks ago. And every morning he would lean over for a good morning kiss just to remember he was alone in bed. His hands were aching this morning. The swollen joints almost refusing to bend when called. That was normal though. The old man would be more concerned if his hands did not hurt this early in the morning. That would be different and different was a cause for concern. He and his aching hands patiently gazed out the window waiting for his son to arrive to take him to the Super Grocer in town.

               The old man remembered a time when there was no Super Grocer that had anything under the sun for a reasonably low price. Instead there had been Brigg’s Drug Store where they still had most everything a person could need at reasonable prices, and they knew your name. It had been a simple and happy time. He was also still driving then he thought bitterly. He stared out the window getting more frustrated by the moment as he waited on his son to show up. His fists slowly clenched and in his left hand, he felt the crinkle of paper. His list. He had carefully written it out last night. He was careful to remember every small detail and ingredient needed to make this night perfect. Nothing was worse than starting to cook his beloved a wonderful supper then realize he didn’t have enough thyme or rosemary or something equally as benign as important. So he had made a list. He never was one for making lists but Anny had taught him the value of one over the years. 

               His son finally arrived and dropped him off at the Super Grocer with no fanfare. The old man didn’t even get a lecture about how he needed to be careful or to take frequent breaks. His son might be learning not to treat him like a child finally. So ironic. He grabbed the first cart in an endless line of metallic, wheeled carts and shuffled inside. First on his list was fresh onion and garlic. The produce section was filled with color and smells. It reminded him of coming home from a long day at work to be greeted by the smell of dinner being prepared. It was wonderful. He could see Anny leaned over the stove with her hair pulled up offering him a frazzled smile as their first born whined in his chair. He was brought back to reality by a slight bump of his cart. He had tapped the lady’s cart in front of him that was deciding which tomato was the best value. He smiled apologetically as she harrumphed. The old man simply shuffled around her in search of the next item on his list.                             

               After he had selected the bread to make an excellent garlic and butter toast, he searched for the penne pasta that Anny preferred. Anny always liked penne. They had dreamed of taking a trip to Italy to eat penne where it was meant to be eaten. They never made the trip. Life had gotten in the way as it sometimes always seems to. Slipping the package of penne into his cart, he pointed it towards the dairy section. He needed a half gallon of whole milk or drink of the Gods as he referred to it when his kids were young. He grabbed a pint of heavy whipping cream and moved down to their selection of cheeses. He picked out two different types. Anny would frown at the larger piece of mozzarella, but he could probably slip it past her. It made the consistency so much smoother without sacrificing that bold cheese flavor. On to the check stand, he thought.

               As he slowly made his progress to the front, he decided to grab some shoe polish. He wanted to look dapper for Anny tonight. Then he selected a new tie. Baby blue was her favorite color. He paused as he passed the florist. That would be just the ticket he thought. He saw roses of every color but those made him think of both of his brothers’ funerals. Then he spotted some daisies, but those were too childish. Finally, his eyes settled on the lilies. Early spring lilies whiter than a dove’s feathers. Anny had carried lilies down the aisle on their wedding day. They were perfect, and he added them to his cart. Last thing on his list was to go by the pharmacy to refill his prescriptions. But he thought why the heck should I even bother as he made his way to the cash register.

               He emptied the contents of his cart onto the moving belt slowly. The cashier seemed impatient even though there wasn’t a line behind him. But she was young and the young were always impatient. He pulled some cash from his inside coat pocket and passed it over. The cashier looked bewildered and called for a manager. The manager approaches and admonished the cashier saying this is how all cash looked years ago, small faces and all.

“Hello sir. It has been a long time!!” said the manager to the old man.

“Good morning. Dan isn’t it?”

“Yes sir. I went to school with your grandson Marcus. Haven’t seen him in a while. How are you and Mrs. Anny?”

“We are doing as we are doing. They let her out of the hospital a few days ago. So we are celebrating tonight,” replied the old man as the manager put his bags into the cart.

“Have a great day!”

“Bye now,” said the old man over his shoulder as he moved towards the exit.

               His son was waiting for him and helped him load his groceries in the car. There was little talk on the way back to his house. Once they had arrived and unloaded his groceries and then said their goodbyes, the old man sat in his favorite chair by the window overlooking Anny’s garden. The sun was still shining... It was still a beautiful day. He decided to take a good, long rest before starting to cook dinner for himself and Anny. He laid the list down on the small table beside his chair. The list rested beside a news paper opened to the obituary page that read, “She was a beloved mother, daughter, friend and above all else wife.” He closed his eyes as he thought, “That was not really a very flattering picture of her. Anny would have preferred the one with her in the blue dress.”

December 11, 2019 20:01

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