Sometimes the most profound moments can happen in the middle of doing something ordinary.
My Brother, Tom, and I were recently grocery shopping for our Mom. At 86, our Mom has paid her dues and shouldn’t have to put even her little toe inside a grocery store anymore. Sometimes she does like to get out and do her own errands and browse around the grocery store but on this particular day she was tired and needed some essentials so my brother and I decided to go for her.
Let me pause here to quickly tell you a little about my brother Tom: he is the essence of goodness and kindness. He is a wonderful, talented guy who has Down syndrome and he has taught me volumes about what is important in life. He has a fantastic sense of humor that comes from growing up with five loving and dedicated siblings and he is a huge sports fan: loves the Redskins, Nationals, Caps and Terps!! Tom also likes a trip to the grocery store without our Mom because I am an easy touch and will buy him things our Mom will usually say he doesn’t need.
To go to the grocery story with Tom is to view the grocery store through a softer filter.
That is to say, I view grocery shopping as you make a list, grab it and check out.
But shopping with my brother Tom means that each aisle is different, full of opportunity and discussion about things such as “Look at this. Can we try it?” or “I saw this on television. It looks like it might be a good thing.” or “Mary, I really want to get this.”
As we leisurely make our way up and down each aisle, we turn the corner to the aisle displaying the gift wrapping, ribbons and cards.
We both stop and start picking up different cards. Tom is a few feet from me, checking out a card here and there, and reading them as I do the same. I ask him if he wants to buy anyone a birthday card. He is quiet.
I turn to see what he is looking at and I realize he is in the section with the Father’s Day cards. I feel like I just entered an emotional minefield.
I say this because our awesome Dad died this past February 21 and this will be our first Father’s Day without him.
Tom is holding open a Father’s Day card and hands it to me to read. “I like this one,” he says. I think I’m going to get it for Dad.”
I hesitate. What to say? There is so much emotion in his voice as talks to me.
I read the card he has picked out and swallow a few times because I don’t want to start tearing up.
“Um, I like this card too,” I slowly say while looking at him directly. “This is a beautiful card and I know Dad would like it. But sweetheart you know that Dad is no longer with us anymore right?”
“I know. But I like this card a lot.”
“Well, I get that and I like it a lot too but Dad isn’t here with us. I mean I know we talk about how we feel Dad is with us but in another way Dad isn’t physically with us anymore. What are you going to do with the card after you buy it?”
We were standing close to each other and we both were silent. While shoppers passed by us with their carts, my mind was going a mile a minute with thoughts, memories and emotions. Finally, Tom looked down at the card and said to me with a smile on his face, “I’m going to take it to the cemetery and give it to Dad. I’ll leave it there for him.”
My brother Tom is the always the best!
Why didn’t I think of that?