This is a true story:
The usual long line at my small town market had me grumpy and impatient.
Three checkout registers with only one open on an early Sunday afternoon seemed ludicrous, and the line of ten people waiting only proved my point. To this day, I am grateful another register didn’t open despite my eighth position in line. If it had I would have missed a love of a lifetime.
No, not my own; she was home anxiously awaiting the two onions and dozen eggs I cradled in my arm.
The love I speak of stood in line ahead of me. They were an elderly couple, easily in their early eighties. I didn’t really take notice of them until they were loading their cart full of groceries onto the conveyor belt. Both maneuvered and removed their many items out of the cart with complete efficiency. Not with speed, that adjective left their arsenal a long time ago. It was replaced with neither reaching for the same item nor occupying the other’s space or bumping into the other throughout the process.
My attention lost all other distractions when the cashier began to ring their items through.
The old man shuffled his feet at a snail’s pace around his wife to circle behind the counter; he took up his post beside the cashier as though he had worked there his entire life. He bagged their tomatoes carefully. The eggs were gently nestled on top. He was considerate with each and every item and its placement.
As he settled into the flow of his task, he addressed his wife across the counter, “Will you be needing any help carrying these bags out to your car today?” His eyes twinkled and a small smile creased one side of his mouth.
His wife, without missing a beat, replied, “Not today. I have a strong, capable man with me.”
His eyes smiled. His courting persisted. “What about getting the bags from your car to the house? If you need assistance, I could come home with you.” He winked.
“What time do you get off work?” She breathed. She patted her hair as though to make sure it was properly in place for this moment.
He stopped for a brief moment and rested his hands upon the final bag. “You are my last customer of the day.”
“Well then,” she handed the money to the teenage cashier who clearly had no idea what was going on, “let me show you where I am parked.”
The old man shuffled back out from behind the counter and slowly put the bags into the cart. His wife patiently waited and watched. When he approached, she stepped aside to let him push the cart. Striding beside him, she looped her arm through his.
Not quite out of earshot, I heard her say, “I hope you don’t do this for all your customers…”
I smiled uncontrollably as I watched them make their way to the automatic doors. Later, reminiscing in my car, my eyes welled. They could have met a year ago. They could have been married for seventy years. I don’t know.
I do know this: two souls, meant to find each other in this great big world, somehow did and I caught a fleeting glimpse of a love of a lifetime.