The afternoon before Mother’s Day turned in circles, like a dog winding its body into an ever tightening coil, searching for a perfect position before plopping down to rest. All I want is a movie, potatoes, onions, and maybe some fruit. I saw strawberries when I walked in. The display is massive and there were people swarming all around it, choosing one plastic container, putting it down and picking up another. I edge in to grab two. I just need berries to go on cereal next week. The potatoes and onions are on the same table, which makes grabbing bags of them easier. A double deep line at the Red Box convinces me to forego the movie that I came for. Ge me outa here! For all that I want to be home already, a little girl swims upstream, the opposite direction, into the market.
The girl’s brain is chanting the lyrics of a pop song and considering the awkwardness of marching into a grocery store with her father. Mom always knows what she wants. Dad is funny about shopping. He’s looking at dishes and rice cookers in a grocery store! We need a card and flowers. He got strawberries so I told him to get Cool Whip and yellow cakes. It’s full with people today. Everybody wants something special for their mother. I wish we could get Pop Tarts. Mom really likes Pop Tarts. The girl grips her father’s hand and tugs him along, trying to move faster. Her eyes scan the check out lines for the shortest one, and she suddenly shrinks against the pant leg beside her. A stout old lady is looking straight at her. She seems frozen, all except her wet blue eyes.
I forgot that it might be busy today, the old lady mumbles wordlessly. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I never thought about it at all. The kids will call tomorrow. I better stay home. There are so many people in the store. Carts everywhere. Maybe I should come back another day. She sees that the shortest route out of the store is toward the back, because lines are clogging the front aisle. She patiently makes her way toward the butcher’s display case. Mounds of fish are reflected in the curved glass of the case. She briefly considers buying a piece of fish for supper, but swings around to head down a side aisle, determined to exit the market with all dispatch.
The butcher is smiling. I like days like this. People pick nice things. They splurge. Men who never buy fish at all want salmon fillets or lobster. They don’t know how much to buy, so they tell me “Enough for four.” I can do that. They look around, their eyes traveling from catchy color coordinated displays to the cold case. They don’t know what to buy but they know what they want. Something special. Something from the kids, but from them, too. I don’t think anybody knows what the right thing will be but they know they need a right thing. Everybody has a mother. How can you NOT do something special for mothers on Mother’s Day?