The other day, my grandparents, both in their 80s, went to the grocery store in their small town.
Nanie waited in their stylish red minivan while Papa went in to the store. “Now remember,” Nanie said, as Papa climbed out of their minivan, “Get some prunes. Be sure to get the ones that are individually wrapped and taste like candy.”
My grandparents have always been extra conscious of eating healthy foods that promote healthy bowels. Their motto is “in one’s golden years, it’s critical to have a b.m. (bowel movement) in the p.m.!”
Papa went into the little grocery store. I can just see him in his Carhart Jeans, his favorite red flannel, his very used cowboy hat, and his wallet he carries on a chain like they do in those old movies. Because of his streamlined physique, the chain on the wallet nearly drags to the ground.
Upon seeing a boxboy, Papa asked, “Do you have any prunes?”
“Yes, I’ll show you,” the boxboy said, leading Papa down the aisle with the boxed prunes.
Papa grabbed a box of prunes off the shelf. Then, taking his cute little wrinkled self through the store, he exited through the automatic door. He didn’t even pause to stop at the check stand, but walked into the parking lot and to Nanie, who was waiting in the minivan.
Meanwhile, the boxboy was in a quandary. He had followed Papa, apparently alarmed that Papa would exit the store without paying for the prunes, but unable to figure out a way to gently apprehend an adorable and innocent-looking elderly gentleman with twinkling blue eyes.
Papa walked up to the window of the passenger side of the minivan and asked Nanie to roll down the window.
Still figuring out how to use modern technology, Nanie instead opened her door.
“Are these the prunes you want?” Papa asked.
“Yes, Johnny, those are perfect.” Nanie smiled her precious Swedish smile at the thought that Papa had correctly chosen the individually wrapped prunes that tasted like candy. She was so proud of him.
“All right, then,” Papa said.
“Johnny?” asked Nanie. “Why is that boxboy across the parking lot looking at you with suspicion?”
“I have no idea,” said Papa, because he truly had no idea. “Maybe because he’s the one who helped me find the prunes.” After a pause, he added, “I’ll be right back, Ruthie.”
Papa walked back into the store, past the boxboy (without even so much as a glance), and went to the nearest check stand. Taking out some money from his wallet on a chain, he paid for the prunes. Then, walking again past the perplexed boxboy (without even so much as a glance), Papa returned to the minivan.
I love stories like these. How precious Papa is! The funniest thing of all is that Papa is a former police officer with the San Diego Police Department. He apprehended dangerous criminals on a daily basis, some who were caught stealing things much more valuable than prunes.
But Papa had no intention of taking something without paying – he’s honest to a fault and has never broken any laws in his entire life. He only wanted to ask his wife of nearly 60 years if the prunes he picked were the correct ones. He was a man on a mission to get his beloved wife her favorite healthy treat.
After all, he’d probably purchased the wrong brand in the past and after so many years of marriage, he had become a very wise man. He had learned his motto the hard way: ask first, then purchase.
Papa has since gone home to be with the Lord. Such memories as the one above truly have more meaning when someone you love is no longer here. While I am sad that he is gone, I know that someday I will see him again.
I encourage you to take a minute to appreciate the grandparents in your life. They are truly treasures, irreplaceable and precious gifts from God.
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