I go to the grocery store on Wednesday nights. I used to go on Thursdays, but a few months ago we ran out of a bunch of stuff a day early, so I went on Wednesday and realized that 72% of the county's population was at church on Wednesday nights, so the place was practically deserted. So much less playing of chicken in the aisles, so much less being annoyed at the ladies who park their carts in the middle of the aisle whilst they peruse the numerous choices of boxed cake mix, so much less waiting for Suzy Q No Decision Maker to choose what flavor of Yoplait she wants this week so that I can grab T's plain yogurt. It was really lovely. I can't bear the thought of going other times now. It's a standing date between me and the Kroger. Every Wednesday night.
Last night, for some inexplicable reason, the store was packed. I didn't notice it while shopping, but when it came time to check out, the lines were mighty. I grabbed a magazine from the rack and hunkered down. A mom and teenager got in line behind me. They kept looking in my direction and talking quietly in a way that made me really self conscious. When I started unloading my cart onto the belt, the mom crept up alarmingly close to my cart, peering in. I said, "Oh, I'm sorry, am I in the way?" (In a nice way, not the snarky way it just seemed.) I thought that maybe she needed a Twix. Or a prepaid Visa. It was weird.
She looked at me and said, "No. My husband just had open heart surgery. He just came home today. He has to eat healthy, and I don't know what to do, so we were looking in your cart for ideas."
I told her that I was sorry about her husband and that she could rifle through my groceries as much as she liked. She proceeded to tell me that her husband wasn't heavy, but that they'd always eaten whatever they wanted and that they'd basically never wanted anything healthy. The woman was totally lost, admitting that pretty much they had always lived off cheeseburgers and pizza. It didn't really add up. This woman looked really fit. Her daughter looked really fit. She even told me that she and her daughter walk every single day together. She told me that they were hauling hay when her husband just fell over. Seven bypasses. Seven. I didn't even know that was possible.
She asked me what I do with broccoli because she saw a head of it in my cart and sent her daughter off to the produce section. I told her she could steam it or roast it, and that we like it roasted. Then I told her how I do it. She just started asking things like, "Can he eat tuna fish?" I said that yes, fish would be great but that he probably shouldn't eat tuna salad with a bucket of mayonnaise in it. She saw unsalted butter in my cart and said she'd probably need to get some for his toast. I told her to check with her doctor on that one. The poor woman was overwhelmed.
When she sent her daughter off to grab something else, I asked how the daughter (who's name is Lindsay and is 15) was coping. She said she was okay. She was driving the truck her dad was throwing hay into when he collapsed. She was shaky a lot and obviously freaked out.
I asked about her. She just said it was completely overwhelming.
I desperately wanted to hug this woman. And I wanted to go to her house and roast her some broccoli. I didn't hug her. Frankly, she didn't look like the type that would want a hug. Instead I told her I was giving her a mental hug. I didn't know what to say after all of that.
This whole long story is just to remind you that you need to take care of yourselves. And that there are multiple parts of the equation. This was an active guy. A young guy (44). But he ate like he thought his body was a garbage disposal, and his wife mentioned a family history of heart disease.
Take care, my peeps. And teach your kids to do the same.