I usually try to write something that I hope is interesting; perhaps even inspirational. This pandemic has drained me in ways that I am still discovering. This month, I came across the following story that I hope encourages you to continue to move forward in these days of social distancing. It was written by Rachel Macy Stafford.
— Blessings, Reverend Fred
Yesterday I offered to get groceries for a dear elderly woman and her daughter who are recovering from COVID. They belong to one of my best friends who lives far away and feels helpless. She called me “amazing” for doing that for them. I am not amazing; I just do what I would want someone to do for my mom and sister; I just do what I hope someone would do for me.
I printed out the grocery list made by the daughter, and the first word that popped into my head was “amazing.” The items were organized by aisle headings and store layout: produce, dairy, bread aisle, cereal aisle, deli, cleaning supplies, and pharmacy. As a result, I walked into the store feeling quite confident I’d be able to find everything.
As I worked my way down the list, I remember feeling surprised by several discoveries, like the fact that OJ is in the produce section, and Biolyte is in the water aisle. (I even went to the pharmacy section to look for it, thinking she might be wrong; she wasn’t.) I learned there is something called “isopropyl alcohol” and made a note to research more about that when I got home. I learned Chobani has a “less sugar” option and club crackers are available with less salt. And when I wasn’t sure about the countless options of detergents and sandwich bags, I looked down at the list to see she had provided key descriptors like “plastic tub,” item number per box, and package color. Amazing.
The shopping trip was taking longer than expected, but for some reason, I wasn’t agitated or annoyed. I carried on, wondering what I might be amazed to find next.
As I finished up in the pharmacy section, I saw how cleverly and discreetly the daughter included items that fragile people often need in order to maintain their dignity. Suddenly, I wasn’t looking at a grocery list, I was looking at a Love List; I was being given a sacred glimpse of how one human being loves and cares for another human being.
All at once, I knew why I was not annoyed to be inside a grocery store, hunting for things I never knew existed on a beautiful fall afternoon…
Because something happens when we help someone love their person in ways only they know how: We discover new ways to love, and we also become more aware of the ways we love our own people — like how we know exactly what they’re looking for when they rummage through the kitchen drawers… like how we know what sauce they prefer on their chicken tenders… like how we know they blink rapidly when they’re trying not cry… like how we know the exact spot to rub on their backs when they can’t fall asleep.
Yesterday, I got to see a glimpse of the way a daughter knows how to care for her mother…
- By aisles
- By nutrients
- By salt consumption
- By sugar intake
- By ointment for irritated skin
- By compassion and companionship
And by doing so, I got a glimpse of my own Love List – one I’d never really stopped to marvel at before.
When I got to my car, there was a text from the daughter requesting a few things she forgot if I hadn’t yet gone to the store.
I went back inside to get the last couple of items, but this time, I stopped at the flower department. It wasn’t on the list.
I picked out the brightest, most beautiful bunch I could find. They were for the amazing woman behind the list. Because it is what I hope someone would do for me.
© Rachel Macy Stafford 2020
In the week ahead, there will be hurdles, stumbles, and mistakes, but PLEASE don’t forget there will also be a Love List that you keep and maintain. It is long… it is detailed… and you know it by heart. You are amazing. I love you.