The old man looked around him at the cars in the parking lot. He had lived in the same town for over fifty years and shopped at this grocery store for most of them. He knew that he had left his wife sitting in the car while he stopped in to pick up “just a few things.” People parked in parking spaces around him and they walked passed him rolling their shopping carts. He looked around again, but he still couldn’t find his car.
I heard a woman ask him if he was all right. He said, “No, I can’t find my car. My wife is sitting it, but I don’t know where it is.” I joined her as she asked him if he remembered what the car looked like. He said, “it is white, like this one” as he pointed to the car he stood behind. The other woman and I looked at each other and I said, “I’ll look for the car,” while she said, simultaneously, “I’ll stay her with him.” He pointed to a car that was closer to the store, “Maybe that’s it.” I asked him what his name was and he said, “Kelly.” As I approached the woman in the car I signaled for her to roll down her window and I explained the situation. She shook her head, it wasn’t his wife. I walked up and down the aisles of cars looking for a white car with a woman sitting in it. I was surprised at how many I found, but none of them were Kelly’s wife.
I had gone through half of the parking lot when I saw an older woman approaching Kelly from the opposite direction and the look of concern on her face. The woman who had stayed with Kelly asked her if she was his wife and she said that she was. We left them then and went about our shopping. But as I pushed my shopping cart along, part of me remained with Kelly and his wife. I thought that he had probably been a proud man who had raised and cared for his family. I imagined he had worked hard and retired to enjoy his senior years with his wife. He must have been frightened to find himself lost in his own town. To look around at a sea of faces and not recognize any of them. Checking over and over again, looking for the safety of the white car where his wife waited for him. Such sadness filled me as it hit me how vulnerable old age and the onset of memory loss had left him.
I know the future that awaits him and his wife. I know the heart breaking decisions that will have to be made. I took a deep breath and I pushed the shopping cart down the aisle.
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy