It was just a quick stop at the grocery store — a hand-basket, produce-department-only kind of stop.
I stepped through the doors, grabbed the blue-handled basket from the stack so well positioned by a smart store employee. I’m sure I’m not the only woman who run-walks through a store — it’s an “I know what I’m doing and what I’m here for” approach to supermarket stops and I’m positive I’ve bumped into others with the same mindset. I headed through the unnecessary take-out food section, straight to the fresh fruit and veggies.
I approached the area of conveniently precut, well-displayed fruits and veggies. I rarely buy the already diced veggies for my stir-fries and salads. I am always happy to do that myself. But the fruit is different.
There’s something about seeing the inside of fruit that helps me know it’s going to taste as good as I want it to.
If anyone ever masters the skill of whole watermelon picking, I need to take a course. I’m disappointingly wrong more than fifty percent of the time.
Reaching into the cool shelves, I pushed aside some of the watermelon pieces that looked less tasty. The well-dressed elderly woman to my left straightened slightly from her cantaloupe search to see who was joining her. As she looked at me, I noticed, ironically, that she had on a melon colored jacket and matching lipstick that I’m sure she had carefully chosen for her shopping occasion. She looked to be about eighty-years old or more — a very well kept beautiful woman, but most definitely older than my mother.
“I used to buy that for my husband,” she told me as she watched me rearrange the watermelon pieces. “I don’t buy it anymore. There is always too much for just me to eat.”
I learned very quickly that she no longer had her husband to share life with. Amazing how much you can learn about someone while choosing fruit.
I told her I like to buy cut pieces so I can see how ripe it is, and also knowing it will all get eaten quickly with no mushy leftovers. I suggested she might try buying a smaller piece for herself — no waste to worry about.
She smiled and started picking up the plastic wrapped watermelon with me.
“That’s a good idea. I do like it. My husband liked it more…”
Her pleasant voice trailed off and I couldn’t make out everything she said. Or maybe my mind trailed off, thinking about what it would be like in the twilight years of my life to go on without my soul mate. It’s obvious their preferences live on in us, even in the produce section, and will always remain a part of us.
“And this is good for your face.”
I turned to her again as she held out a neatly wrapped half-cantaloupe.
“For my face?” I came back to our conversation.
“It’s good for your skin. It gives a glow, and helps fight against wrinkles,” she smiled at me.
I knew she knew.
This would be one of those facts that I didn’t even want to double check with Google. I had no idea if she ever worked in the skin care profession, or even kept track of how many wrinkles she had not gained due to her intake of cantaloupe. Maybe her husband had been a dermatologist. But I doubt it. And it didn’t matter. The simple fact that she has lived life beyond what I had made her an expert on some things I knew very little about.
I couldn’t help but think of Titus 2:
Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior.
Whichever side of the exchange you are on at any particular moment of life, there’s invaluable stuff to be gleaned from an older wiser woman. Most of our lives we’re lucky enough to be on both sides — older than some, younger than others. My encounter with the lady wearing the melon-colored-suit happened on the way to my lunch with a young mom twenty years younger than me.
Life is full of taking in, and giving out — sometimes without even realizing it.
By the time I had selected the correct watermelon, I turned to see my elderly advice-giver busy sorting through the abundant contents of her shopping cart. She had added a lovely thin wedge of pink watermelon to her stash, and I a bright half-cantaloupe to mine.
I like to imagine she enjoyed her sweet fruit reliving joyful summer memories of her husband; and I like to imagine I may have a more glowing wrinkle-free complexion in the days to come. I gained a lot more from that quick stop than my hand-basket could hold.