Monday, April 25, 2022

Memory #11

I keep a list of memories about the 34 years I had with my wife. Knowing that many, though not all, will somehow make it into this collection. 

Sometimes the memories come to me out of the blue, while I'm making coffee, folding clothes from the dryer, or turning Bitey (my new robotic Shark vacuum cleaner) on from the app on my phone. I'll do a lot, er, all, of chores around the house but sweeping and mopping is not one. Not after all the years I spent working in restaurants as a kitchen assistant/janitor.

Sometimes the memories come from outside sources. My sister in law reminded me of one that makes my heart soar and opens a Hoover Dam of tears.

While Deb was battling with her extremely rare Cholangiocarcinoma, she was, like the rest us in lockdown because of Covid. What a great way to spend the last two years of a life, huh?

Deb accepted her fate with amazing grace, a feat I could not imagine. She tried, despite all odds, to be positive. She wanted for little more than to beat this fucking disease. But she also wanted to get out of the house and go shopping.

"I want to buy the foods I want, not the ones Instacart picks out for us."

"I want to find fresh vegetables."

"I want to look over the selection of cheeses and bring an interesting one home for Rich."

"I want just a small sense of normalcy, that's all."

That's when my youngest daughter sprung into action and wrote a very touching and personal email to the manager of the local Trader Joes. She explained Deb's extremely immunocompromised situation from the weekly chemo sessions, which by the way she attended solo because Covid restrictions excluded my accompaniment.

Abby asked if there was any way possible for the store to open an hour early so that Deb could shop safely without fear of being near possibly contagious customers. Abby hesitated to make the Big Ask, but I reminded her the squeaky shopping cart wheel gets the oil. Also, the manager could say "no", but so what.

Plus, despite the famed Siegel cynicism, I've always harbored the thought that deep down inside, people are good and empathetic and abhor the pain of others.

My grief therapist quoted me a poem the other day about how we are not born from stardust, but from a trillion gazillion pieces and shards of a cosmos-sized broken heart. And because we all know and recognize the pain of others, we are moved by other people's suffering. And each of us has the capacity and the DNA wiring to want to help. 

I know scientifically, none of that makes sense, but to be honest, not much does these days.

The manager at the Trader Joe's wrote back immediately and wanted to make Deb's wish come true. She agreed to open the store, at 7 AM, with just one cashier and let them freely roam the aisles so that Deb could feel human again. 

Moreover, and in keeping with the TJ's spirit, she didn't call the press or have a photographer on hand to capture and exploit this moment of corporate altruism.

It was just one good person making a little -- but giant-- gesture of goodness to my good person, Deb.

As they were leaving the store, the manager topped off Deb's overloaded cart with many bouquets of fresh flowers.

When she got home, she burst into tears. Joyful tears. About an experience most of us take for granted.

And prideful tears, over how Abby took a wild hare idea and made it a reality.

It's Saturday morning as I write this and the frigitator is getting empty. Instead of shopping at Pavillions or Whole Foods, I'm going to patronize this Trader Joe's. As a measure of appreciation.

And see what they have in the way of interesting cheeses.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this story Rich ~ i could feel the pulse of the whole scenario & your memory of it. Good stuff, rough, sweet, frick’d, fun, crazy, yummy, satisfying, kind…& on & on