Bottled olive oil, jarred mangoes, a pair of avocados, two limes, and some plastic-wrapped celery rattled about in their sacks, as I yanked the grocery trolley one giant step back. My sweating hands gripped the cart’s plastic handle. An aroma of melting tar hung in the dripping air, mingled with a tincture of combusted fuel. Craning cautiously, I peered left toward the driver’s window. Red truck; cab loaded with construction gear; the driver’s shaved head pinched tight by wraparound, yellow tinted sunglasses.
No, this was not a man I wanted to confront. My shoulders dropped as he shifted into forward and sped away. A woman’s voice thinly penetrated the humid cloud that cushioned me in that peculiar state of suspended animation anyone who has flirted with the hereafter might recognize. “He almost hit you!”
“Yes,” I replied, “but when I saw him, I thought it best not to point that out.”
“Probably a good choice,” the bystander agreed. With that short exchange, we both shook our heads, cranked open our car trunks, and returned to our quotidian tasks.
How odd to think that the contents of that emptying cart might have been fodder for my eulogy. ‘She was a mother who prepared dishes from scratch for her family, and delighted in entertaining friends,’ they might say.
Though my life did not pass before me at this time, the moment reminded of my grandmother’s untimely death at a town meeting, nearly 40 years ago. Her blue terrycloth slippers waited side by side next to the kitchen door, just as she had left them; their comfortable, meticulous image part of the many things I think of when I call her to mind.
A recent Wall Street Journal column advised travelers not to complete ‘to-do’ list tasks at home before departure–as though they may never be back. If you live long enough, you may disagree.
Life may be unpredictable, but ordering it can bring peace.