14 September 2008

Adventures in Grocery Shopping

So then there's my dad. 90 years old and tough as a boot. He still walks a couple miles a day, but he doesn't hear very well and on some days his memory operates at about 80 percent and on others it might be 30 percent.

He doesn't see well, either, but what he can see is a matter of mystery. Some times I can walk right by without him noticing me, yet he watches baseball and calls every ball and strike in tandem with the MLB umpires.

Each Sunday morning before I go to church, Dad and I go grocery shopping. (I am hoping that the previous sentence will somehow absolve me for swearing like a drill sergeant and flipping off people while driving.)

Mom doesn't get out much any more, so it falls to Dad and I, The B Team, to take her list and try to translate her wishes into reality.

There's a flaw in this system - there are things that do not go on the list. They are the things that "he knows to get" like frozen meals, beer, cereal and jam. Do not ask why some items go on the list and others do not. This is not a matter for discussion. That is just the way it is.

The other complicating factor is that our Vons market has been conducting a major remodel since we started this gig about 3 months ago. Every single week, almost every aisle is completely relocated. Often they just switch food from one side of the aisle to the other. I have a feeling this may be solely to mess with us. I will bet the staff is watching on hidden camera, laughing their asses off.

So we rampage through the store. Dad can't see labels well, so he picks up items and peers at them and sets them down in the wrong place. He can't remember what he wants, so we go through a routine.

Dad: We need English muffins.
Sb: The raisin cinnamon ones?
Dad: No!
Sb: The others are extra-crispy...
Dad: Hell no!
Sb:...you don't want sourdough, do you? Or whole-wheat?
Dad: No I don't want any goddam sourdough.
Sb: The only other kind is cinnamon-raisin.
Dad: Oh, I guess that will do.

We go through that exact conversation every week without fail.

I head off to get the milk.

Dad yells "Check the expiration dates!" Apparently, at one point in the dim past, a carton of milk went bad before it got used. Now we have to stand on our tiptoes and knock all of the milk over, looking for a carton in the back that might have three extra days before it expires.

There are some things he insists we always buy even if I tell him over and over we have plenty at home. Canned fruit is one of those. Cookies are another. If a nuclear disaster should ever happen, Mom and Dad could survive on the canned fruit and cookies they have stockpiled.

But I figure that I'm not going to fight him on every little purchase. Good gosh, before he retired, the man had dozens of employees. He ran an area bigger than most states. He was used to making decisions all day long. These days, he doesn't have much to decide about. So if the man wants to fill up his shopping cart with mandarin oranges in heavy syrup and he can afford them, more power to him.

Mom doesn't see it that way. 60-some years of being the Household CEO, of guarding every penny, doesn't give her much tolerance for our foolishness. We hear about it when we get home and unload the groceries.

"I wish he would just stick to the list!" she moans every week.

"But the list doesn't have everything on it..." I weakly offer. Every single week.

It's annoying. It's a pain in the ass. I hope we do it 500 more times.


Kelliqua said...

You should know that I'm smiling. I hope you have 500 more trips, too.

Dave and Paula said...

Thank you! I hope there are 500 more trips too! You sre such a Blessing to Mom and Dad! I love you! You make me smile all over, because I know you are telling it exactly like it is.

g said...

Ha! this was funny.

My dad passed away in 2002. But when he retired from his job as a self-employed energy consultant (after having been a VP of an electronics plant and being laid off in the 70s due to a bad economy), he set Grocery Shopping as his mission in life.

He clipped coupons, he read the newspaper circulars, he planned his shopping trips rigorously to get the best possible value for any item on his list.

I remember when we visited him and Mom when our son was little, and we stopped by the store as we drove into town to buy some milk or something.

Dad quizzed us on the price we'd paid. Did we know that we could have gotten it cheaper at Kroger than at Brookshire?

He approached grocery shopping like a small businessman approaching his supplies and expenditures.

I think Mom was glad he had something to occupy his time.

RiceWenchie said...

I am so thankful I have both parents still around to spend time with.

Thanks for sharing & I hope that you're blessed with 500+ more trips... :o)

MsLittlePea said...

I say Hell no! to the extra crispy muffins too. Here's to ten thousand more trips.....

Gwen said...

This made me kind of teary.

daysgoby said...

Your father sounds like my grandpa - as far back as I can remember, my mother would whisper 'DON'T tell your grandfather you need or want anything.I will get it for you.'

Grandpa was famous for firing up the Caddy and zooming off in the night for single items. 'Yogurt? OF COURSE I'll go! Sheryl, your daughter said she liked yogurt....'

And off he'd go. Never mind it was 11:30 at night.

Swistle said...

I love this. So funny.

When Paul took over the grocery shopping, we had a big problem because of all the things I don't need to have on the list. I had trouble even coming up with what the items WERE that I "just knew" to get. This made Paul a little (justifiably)...exasperated.

Suzanne said...

You and your family are wonderful.

Lisa said...

Your dad is right. One can never have enough cookies! He's a wise man.

Today when I go grocery shopping and reach for some cookies, I'll be thinking of you and your dad.

flurrious said...

Your exchange with your dad about the English muffins reminds me of every conversation I ever had with my dad when I would take him to Starbucks, the main points being why the hell do they play the music so loud, and just get him coffee not one of those goddamned lattes.

Susan C said...

I was very ill for the last several weeks and couldn't do the grocery shopping. A lot of friends offered to shop for me, but the list thing was so challenging. All I could come up with was milk, juice, fruit , yogurt and cat food.

Then I re-discovered vons.com and delivery service and it changed my life. It took me 15 minutes to purchase $100 worth of groceries that were delivered to my door. And it was easy to find all of the sales items.

I was going to suggest that you do this too, SB, but then I read your last line and understand that it's not just about the food.

Yes, may you have that English muffin conversation at least another 500 times!

Elvie said...

You are a wonder. I only shopped with him once when I was there and was exhausted after. I also hope there are many more times that we can "do" Vons. Watching him muscle the huge bags of water softener salt made me cringe, but then I'm a girl and can't do that kind of stuff. LOL

mar said...

your parents are adorable. no wonder you turned out so well.

mothergoosemouse said...

That made me smile. A lot.

Count Mockula said...

I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks, Suebob.

Maggie said...

the exasperation of love.

you are a good person Suebob.

michelle of bleeding espresso said...

That's so sweet! I was also taught to be super careful and make that added effort just to get a few extra days on the milk...some lessons are for life :)

catherine said...

I love you to pieces right now for that very last sentence. It made my heart do this weird lovely little leapy thing. Many, many happy returns to the grocery store.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

This was a surprisingly touching post. I lost my mom in June, and boy, shopping with her could drive you nuts. I wish I could do it even one more time. 500 sounds like heaven.

Nice that you are aware enough to appreciate it, and even though it's frustrating, to know that it's not going to happen forever, and cherish it while you can. it's the same with kids, because while they (HOPEFULLY) don't die before you do, they do grow up and move out, and it's good to appreciate them while they're around.

Dazed and Confused said...

What a wonderful post, I feel like I was there! And how nice it will be to have in the future. I love that blogging allows us to create mini time capsules.
The last line made this a perfect post.

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