I had fully intended to blog this time about nursing. Really I did. After all, that is the subject of my memoir so that is what I intended to focus on in my blog. But, growing old just keeps distracting me. It can be so darn entertaining at times. Take, for instance, my recent trip to Target to pick up a few things for my daughter’s baby shower.
I was in a particularly good mood that morning as I shopped for my daughter and soon-to-be-grandson. I have to admit that when the sun is shining and all’s right with the world, I tend to forget that I am in my 60’s. Unless confronted by a mirror, I still think of myself as somewhere on the downhill side of middle aged. Certainly not elderly. So I’m always surprised when I come face to face with someone who sees me differently.
I was having trouble finding the diapers I needed to construct the clever centerpiece I had found on the Baby Shower section of Pintrest. I had assumed, apparently incorrectly, that diapers would be with other paper products, such as toilet paper, or Kleenex. After circling those aisles for the third time, I was approached by a perky, twenty-something salesgirl.
“Can I help you find something?” she asked.
“I’m looking for disposable diapers,” I replied.
Perky looked puzzled. She seemed uncomfortable, as if she didn’t know what to say. I wondered what I had said wrong. Maybe they weren’t called disposable diapers anymore, now that nearly everything was disposable?
“You know…diapers….Pampers,” I explained.
Relief flooded over her face. Her sparkling smile returned.
“Oh!” she exclaimed. “You’re looking for diapers for BABIES. They’re in the back of the store, near housewares.”
“Thanks,” I said and steered my cart towards the back of the store.
That’s when it hit me… the reason she had looked so uncomfortable… the reason she didn’t know how to respond to me at first. She had seen my white hair and couldn’t decide if she should direct me to the baby, or to the adult, diapers. Pampers or Depends. I finally understood her dilemma, poor child. I started to smile. And then I started to chuckle. The more I saw myself as other shoppers probably did – a white haired, eccentric old woman wandering the aisles of Target, laughing and smiling to herself – the funnier it became and the more I laughed.
Suddenly it occurred to me that if I didn’t stop laughing, the store manager might start calling local nursing homes, asking if any of them were missing a confused old woman. Wiping the tears from my eyes and suppressing my smile as best I could, I tried to get a grip. I concentrated on my serious face as I continued my shopping, with only an occasional smirk crossing my lips. I made it through the check-out line and back to my car before bursting into laughter.
Driving home, I rolled down the windows, cranked up the radio and sang along to Born To Be Wild at the top of my voice. On the outside, the wrinkles and white hair may tell a story I am not yet ready to hear. But, on the inside, I’m still me – a child of the Woodstock Generation, light years away from little, old lady.