Deep Thoughts

When I least expect it…

So, the other day I was at Costco.  My glasses were ready and, since I do so very much enjoy being able to see, I went as soon as they called me.  Of course, being who I am, I can’t just pick up the glasses and then leave.  Oh, no.  I must browse.  Even if I browsed just a few days before.

This time, I decided to pick up some Calcium and Magnesium tablets.  I’ve realized that I’ve reached the age when a glass of milk a day doesn’t do what I need for healthy bones.  So, Calcium tablets it is!

Anyway, on my way out of the store, I saw Carol – a woman who works at Costco.  She’s been there for years.  My mother, being who she was, became friends with Carol.  (She was friends with the manager of Costco, too…but I haven’t seen Gayle yet.)  So I went over to Carol at the membership desk to say hello.  I immediately got a hug.  Carol, of course, asked me how I was doing.  She told me that she missed my mom a lot.  “Of course,” she said, “I don’t have to tell you about missing Nancy.”   I replied that I do miss her every day, but that I know she’s with me.

And that was the truth.  I know Mom stays by my side.

As I was leaving, I asked Carol to give my regards to Gayle.  I got another hug.  Then, I made my way out to the parking lot, got into my car, and went on my way.

I do most of my thinking in the car.  I thought about Mom and the friendships she’d formed over the years.  She was like Norm in “Cheers”.  You know how every week, Norm would walk into the bar and everyone – regulars and extras alike – would shout out “NORM!” in greeting?  Well, that’s how it was with my mom when she went shopping.  These retail employees, who were beaten down by so many moronic shoppers, would see Mom and their faces would just light up.  “Nancy!  Where have you been?  How are you, sweet thing?” In the late 90s, when Mom was battling Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, it was the women at Carson Pirie Scott in Evergreen Park who would come to my mother’s defense when other shoppers would scoff or laugh at Mom’s shaved head.   These are the women who would save up store coupons for when Mom would come to the store.  They would see her and say, “Girl!  Come with me. I’ve kept this on the side for you.”

Why did they do this?  Yes, they were excellent associates.  Yes, they exhibited excellent customer service.  Yes, they were nice people.  But, ultimately, they did it because of how Mom treated them.  She greeted them with a smile.  She asked how they were doing.  She said “please” and “thank you.”  And – in return for the friendliness and service they showed her – every Christmas she went through that store with a flatbed cart borrowed from the stock room to give out gifts.  Nothing big.  A little 50 cent bowl with some candy in it, wrapped in a nice ribbon.  But, that’s who she was.  I always said, “My mom can make friends with a door knob.”

Okay, I’m getting off track here.

So, back to me thinking about Mom while driving home.

The last blog I wrote – about having to purge – went through my mind.  I started considering more strategies and planned out what I would accomplish over the weekend. That got me to thinking about the things I still haven’t located – like the key to the safety deposit box.  Yeah, Mom sort of forgot to tell me where she put that.

It’s not like I need anything from the safety deposit box.  Nor do I need to put anything into the safety deposit box.  But, knowing where things are is sort of essential.  I know where my birth certificate is…and my social security card…and my passport…and my savings account ledger…and my life insurance policy.  These are all good things to know about. But that safety deposit box key had been eluding me.  I sort of need that…just like I need to put someone on that account with me.

Anyway, when I got home from work today, I made and ate dinner and then changed into my pajamas.  On a trip upstairs, I looked through Mom’s “movie drawers” to see if she had a DVD that a Facebook friend was looking for.  (She doesn’t, btw.  Sad.)  I did find a lot of other movies – many still in the factory plastic and with price tags.  I was about to leave the room when I thought, “Oh, let me take a look in that third drawer.  She may have some movies stashed in there.”

There were no movies in the drawer, sad to say.  But I did find a cute picture of my Uncle Carmie.  And there was a beaded purse that Mom loved.  It’s old, and she never could bring herself to get rid of it.  And there was a small box.

Inside the box…was the safety deposit key.

All I could do at that point was say, out loud, “Mommy, thank you for always looking out for me.”

Now I have to get to the bank this weekend to show Lucy – the keeper of the safety deposit boxes – that I found the key.  She’ll be pleased.  I don’t go into the bank often, but when I do – and she sees me – Lucy gives me that expectant look that says, “Well?”  I just give my head a slight shake, “No” and watch as Lucy’s shoulders drop…a little deflated. So, I can’t wait to share the news with her.

That’s one of the wonderful things that my mother did for me.  Because of her ability to make friends with such a wide variety of people, I’m treated well.  Not because of who I am. Well, that’s not true.  They’ve gotten to know me and like me for me.  But, really, they gave me that chance because I’m “Nancy’s Daughter.”  Because I’m Nancy’s Daughter, I get hugs when I go to Costco.  Because I’m Nancy’s Daughter, I get super-friendly greetings when I go to the bank.  Because I’m Nancy’s Daughter, half of the people she and I worked with took half of the day off from work to come to her wake.

I cannot even begin to express to you how proud I am to be Nancy’s Daughter.  And how glad I am that Mom is still looking out for me.

4 comments on “When I least expect it…

  1. Carleen,

    I admire the two relationships you have had with your mother….the one you had and the one you still have. Both are inspiring to me and make me wish I had more of a relationship with my mom. But that is another story. Your story gives me a warm spot in my stomach and says a great deal about her and about YOU. Keep on doing what you do, you are a special person also.



  2. Great blog, Car. I’m so glad you’re so aware of the many ways in which your beautiful mom looked out for you, and looks out for you still. What a gift and a blessing–which is exactly what she’s saying about you right now. 🙂


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