Recently my mom came to Wisconsin for a visit. I have received many wonderful things from my mom through the years: intangibles, like the wisdom that "your home is a haven," and many tangibles, too. 99% of my wardrobe arrives in care packages from Buffalo, courtesy of her fashion sense and bargain-hunting abilities. One of the finest traits she nurtured in me, though, is a love for grocery shopping.
On my 16th birthday, I got my driver's permit. Understandably, my mom was terrified to get in a car with her daughter behind the wheel. She played it pretty cool, but I could tell by the her white-knuckled grasp on the armrest and constant slamming on the imaginary passenger-side brake pedal that she was uncomfortable. So, Mom came up with a plan that benefited both of us.
Saturday mornings became our driving time. She would haul my sorry rear-end out of bed at 7:00 AM, when no right-minded person was on the road, with the promise of car keys and breakfast. I'd take the wheel and chauffeur Mom to The Original Pancake House. After nursing stacks of Swedish pancakes (for Mom) and pecan pancakes (for me), we'd swing over to Wegmans, our local grocery store. If it meant more time driving, I certainly wasn't about to complain! And she was happy to have someone to push the cart.
What I didn't realize at the time was that my mother had a much more important plan for our mornings. While instilling in me the love for pancakes, fresh produce, and waking up early on Saturdays, she was able to share precious moments with her oldest daughter before I flew the coop and moved to the middle west for college. We'd talk about school stress and choir practice while we maneuvered our cart through the aisles. Boyfriends as we weighed our options in frozen foods. Forget teaching me how to drive...she taught me how to live on those Saturday mornings!
During her latest visit, I still noticed her clutching the armrest when I drove, and we made a special visit to my local grocery store. Slowly meandering the aisles, we picked out ingredients for dinner* and other foodstuffs that caught our fancy. And we talked. About the price of apples, yes, but mostly about family, jobs, life.
Sometimes you learn more in the aisles of the grocery store than unit pricing.
*Come back tomorrow to see what Mom and I made for dinner! I promise it won't be so sappy.