“I was at the grocery store, ready to check out. I kept glancing over my phone and scrolling through my social media feed while waiting for my turn. Then I heard, ‘Yes, that too, what the heck? What in the world is wrong with you, woman!?’
I paused my scrolling feed for a second and glanced up to see the aggressive speaker. From what I could tell, he was dressed up for a special occasion like a red carpet event or a Gala. Strange. So I went back into my phone mode, but then I heard another voice.
‘I am so sorry, son, I didn’t know,’ said the elderly mother.
It was now clear the two people in front of me were mother and son. The elderly mother spoke in a soft, shaky voice, and was hunch-backed, with thin, grey hair. Her middle-aged son was twice her size.
She spoke to the cashier, ‘Can you please add the two bottles of Moscato and the chocolate? And, let me see… Oh, is it too much to ask if you don’t mind, to remove the eggs, almond milk, and the peaches too? I am so sorry to cause everyone trouble.’
She turned to me with a frown and sad eyes, obviously embarrassed. She whispered, ‘I am so sorry.’
I gave her a big smile and said, ‘Oh, not at all. You’re totally fine.’
‘For crying out loud. Wow, you’ve managed to ruin my night. That’s it, I’ll be out in the car waiting with Joanna,’ said the son, who had one hand in his pocket, and the other rubbing his forehead in an irritated manner. He turned around and walked out of the store.
‘What a douche bag.’ I said to myself and then went back to staring at my phone.
‘Ma’am, can you please swipe again?’ The cashier asked the sweet, elderly lady.
‘Of course, my dear,’ she said in her soft voice, her entire body shaking as if she was going to fall.
‘What card is that? Oh, it’s an EBT card. Ma’am, we don’t accept that at this store,’ said the cashier.
‘Oh no…That’s all I have except some cash and change. Can you please cancel out the transaction? I’ll get the Moscato and the Ferrero Rocher chocolate. I’ll see if I can come up with the cash,’ she said.
She began shaking, even more. Her voice started to crumble as a tear slid down her cheek. She walked toward the Coin Star machine to get dollar bills to add to her cash so she could buy the things for her son. I couldn’t take it anymore. My heart was ripped. I didn’t want to embarrass her, so I waited until she walked away.
I said, ‘Hey, please don’t cancel the items. Also, can you please ring the peaches, almond milk, and the carton of eggs? While you do that, can I quickly get something?’
I ran to the gift card aisle. There was a 50 dollar Visa gift card and a 500 dollar American Express gift card. I picked the American Express one.
The elderly woman, at this point, was almost to the exit door.
I quickly said, ‘Please add 500 dollars on this American Express gift card and these two frozen pizzas.’
The cashier said, ‘Oh, wow, 500 bucks. Is it a special occasion? Someone is lucky!’
I replied, ‘Yes, I was very lucky, and I’m going to repay the kindness.’
I checked out and walked toward the elderly woman. I asked, ‘Ma’am, what’s your name?’
Taken by surprise, she looked at me with her sad eyes. Still shaking, she said, ‘I am Laurie.’
I said, ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Laurie. You see, earlier today, my boss gave away 1K for a silly competition at work. I won, and I was going to give it to my mother. But today, when I saw you, you reminded me of her. If you would be so kind, would you accept this small gift and split it with my mother? I mean, if she were here, this is what she’d ask me to do. And sharing my award would make me happy, but sad if you don’t accept.’
‘I can’t do that, my sweet angel.’ she said, looking down, and crying uncontrollably.
I said, ‘Yes, you can. If you consider me your angel, you will do just that because knowing you won’t will make me sadder than you.’
I don’t know why, but I started crying along with her. After a few minutes of negotiating, she accepted but asked for my cell phone number and address so she could mail me a check. I gave her the wrong number.
I took out the gift card, and wrote, ‘You’re a lovely mother.’
I offered her my arm, and we walked toward a brand-new Mercedes Benz, where her son was waiting. I glanced through the window and saw him lounging, conversing with a woman who must’ve been Joanna. He looked at me, shocked, and got out of the car.
He said, ‘I’m sorry, do I know you?’
Turning to his mother, he said, ‘Mom, who the heck is that guy?’
Quickly, she became nervous, and I could tell she was embarrassed.
She said, ‘Please, it’s not like him, forgive his behavior.’
‘I am Sonny,’ I replied. ‘I am here to walk Ms. Laurie to your car. If you care enough, could you please let her in?’
The son mumbled, ‘Oh yes, sure. Whatever.’
I opened the door, and Ms. Laurie stepped inside. She spoke in her sweet trembling voice, ‘Thank you so much, angel, sweet boy. I expect to talk to you soon, I am in your debt.’
As I shut the car door, I turned around to her son and said, ‘Listen, dude, whoever you are, I don’t give a hoot and if I see you again being rude to your mom again, I’ll be sure to call you out in public. You’re lucky I didn’t today.’
He then quickly got inside his car and drove off. I wonder what the mother could have done so wrong to be worthy of her son’s rude behavior?
Does he know that 50 years ago this beautiful, young woman was busy wiping his butt, feeding him, and looking out for him? One must wonder what horrible things his mother may have done for him to be that angry; it makes me sick to see that he allows her to live on food stamps, and watched as she left her groceries behind so she can buy the two bottles of Moscato.
I went home and immediately called my mother. I started to cry as she said, ‘Kaise ho beta?’ (How are you, my son?)
I know that she’s old now, and that life is so short. Someday she’ll be gone, and the thought of that caused an ache that made my voice choke. I said, ‘Ahem… I am doing well Ammy (Mom). I just wanted to call to say I love you. That’s all.’
I hung up and continued to cry.
The truth to the matter is that there’s no one like your mother, so spend time with her, love her, appreciate her because you never know when this very moment can be taken away from you.”