Wrinkled hands and stooped posture, the gray woman slumped slowly to the store. She gasped each time her foot took a new step. From here, she seems stunned to have made contact with the parking lot pavement. I watch her slowly, and smile each time we make eye-contact--it is not just an act of southern hospitality. This gray woman is blood, though hers is much thinner than mine these days.
"Are you okay?" I ask occasionally, unsure from the start. She reassures me she is ready to grocery shop, and at this point, I have to believe her.
Some time before the long crawl to the grocery store doors, I spoke to my father, worried of her health.
"I don't see how she'll make it, and quite frankly, I'm scared to have to face the worst," I said.
"Just call 911 like everyone else," he said abrasively.
His words were just as gray as she.
Her final huff through the doors signaled the beginning of a long few hours, possibly in and out of the same few aisles--she operates in circles. She talks in circles; she walks in circles; she rolls her hair at night, looking like stacked circles atop her head. This may not work for me, but it works for her, somehow. Just like her years, her system is all a gray area of confusion for me.
When the shopping was complete, bags packed tightly in the cart and the receipt folded neatly in a wallet, we crawled across the pavement once more, in the same routine as before. She said I was her moral support as I packed the trunk of her car. If "moral support" means asking "Are you okay?" twenty times a day, then I can manage being the moral support she needs for now.
"I remember when you were little, I used to hold your hand and take you through the store..." the gray woman reminisced. "Now, you have to hold my hand. It's funny how things work out."
"Circle of life," I said.
Yet another thing about her that works in circles.