Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Shopping With Grandpa

It was a dark night. We traveled a dark road which seemed to lead us into obscurity. The five granddaughters had almost worn their grandpa (my dad) out. However, his generous, patient spirit, groomed by raising three daughters and becoming the grandfather of five more little women, he'd  adjusted, even learned to thrive amidst so much love.

He'd taken all the girls to the outlet mall, made sure everyone had a new jacket, or new shoes, or jeans; but there was a new store, a new brand, that specialized in yoga wear. My niece had heard raves about Lulu Lemon and heard there was a LL outlet. She had an address, but no one had heard of the store and no one was sure where the address would lead us--it was before we'd all pledged allegiance to googlemaps. We didn't even know if the place existed. Nonetheless, Grandpa had promised.

With no other commerce to be seen, no signage, only a poorly lit out-of-the-way mini warehouse, we piled out of two cars and made our way into Lulu Lemon: sparse racks, rough flooring, and try-on rooms with ill-fitting curtains. The place appeared to be pop-up store--here today, gone tomorrow.

As Dad used to say, "They were like dogs in a meat factory." The girls disappeared and fell in love with the fit and feel of Lulu Lemon. A tradition was born.

Over the coming years, Grandpa continued his shopping trips with the girls, but as he aged, he'd find himself a chair, a spot, where he'd people watch while he patiently waited. Everyone had a story.

The day came when walking became difficult for Grandpa, but he refused to use a cane or a walker--he preferred to take the risk of falling. A well intentioned shopping trip became too much for Dad as he tried to make it across one floor of the massive department store. It was the last time. True to himself, he made sure Grandma continued the tradition, and even set aside the money for one pair of yoga pants for everyone.

The week after Grandpa died, my mom, my daughter and I, had to go shopping. It was the week before my daughter would start college and, she'd found the winter jacket she needed. I was preparing to pay when my mom stepped forward and said that Grandpa wanted to buy her the jacket.

"You must have a pretty special Grandpa," the saleslady said.

For a moment, no one could respond. We just looked at each other with our watering eyes and said, "We sure do."