"No! No! That can't be right!" The petite senior protested the refusal of her credit card. "Wait, I've got another one in here somewhere."
She hefted a mammoth handbag up onto the checkout counter. With leather gloves and purse handle clutched in her left hand, she plunged her right into the purse. The ample folds of her full length beaver coat muted the near-frantic movements inside the bag. A wad of tissues emerged first, followed by several retrievals of pink packets of artificial sweetener. Again the right hand dove in, this time coming up with a bottle of antacid tablets. More medications appeared and one by one joined the jumble of goods on the counter. Then an overstuffed wallet emerged. She seemed a little bewildered at first but then tackled the clasp, her arthritic fingers struggling to get it open. The unruly wallet flipped out of her hands, spewing coins to the floor.
"Oh shit," she whined.
I bent down and gathered up the fallen. Standing up I handed her the coins along with the wallet, "Here you go. I think I got it all."
Wallet in one hand, coins in the other, she offered a polite yet automatic, "Thank you."
But it was her pale blue eyes that captivated me. I saw a little warmth, a little sorrow and more than a little fear in those windows of the soul. We both hung on to the moment, eyes locked on each other, searching for something...
"So how will you be paying for this?" The cashier's impatient words cut between us. Eyeing the wad of cash crammed into the troublesome wallet, she added, "Cash?"
A sad little voice answered, "I don't think I have enough money." The register displayed $11.62. Her eyes and hands dropped to the counter. Her lower lip trembled.
"It's okay Mom. I've got this."
Month by month, year by year, Alzheimer's Disease ate away my mother's memory. But worst of all, it stole the light out of those beautiful blue eyes.
©2015 April Hoeller