I go grocery shopping nearly everyday. We go every two weeks for a full order, but it seems I always need something just when I am about to prepare dinner.

I'm not sure if I'm just absent minded or if I really go to the store because I meet  people there. A little of both I guess.

This day would not disappoint me. I was trying desperately to find a tomato that looked like I just picked it off the vine in my garden. In reality my garden failed miserably this year. It was all my fault. I just didn't take care of it. But now I wish I did. The prices for fresh vegetables are high and the quality low.

In frustration I finally grabbed the best one I could find. Backing away from the counter with my meager selection in hand, I wasn't paying attention.

"Oh, I'm so sorry!" I said as I nearly fell over a woman in a electric shopping cart. Most major stores have started providing them as a courtesy to those who have difficulty getting around. I see them every where.

Well, except for this one and it was right behind me.

"Oh, that's okay. I'm used to it. They need to put horns on these things." she said with a smile.   "We are positioned a bit lower and somewhat out of view. They are also so quiet that often times people just don't hear us coming. But I don't know what I'd do without one."

"I was so wrapped up in trying to find a good tomato," I said.

"The prices keep going up, too. I used to grow my own. The best in the neighborhood. I couldn't this year because I just can't do it any more. But I must tell you I was glad. The dry weather killed so many gardens. I was feeling sad in the spring when I normally planted everything. I was jealous watching my neighbors.   But then it was such a bad season I felt vindicated," she said.

"Well, I grew cherry tomatoes this year. They weren't supposed to be. They were "big boys" that never grew up," I said laughing.

She then maneuvered her way closer to find one for herself.

"I'm sorry for your challenges. It must be frustrating," I said.

"Well, it all requires a change in attitude. I could spend my time thinking about what I can't do any more, or spend it on what new things I can do."

Then backing up and turning her cart so she could face me she continued.

"Sure I loved gardening. Besides my vegetables I also planted many flowers. I learned all the tricks of the trade to make them bloom bigger and better each year. I thought my home would look so bleak but it's wonderful. You see even though I can't do all  the things I once did, the flowers can. The flowers keep doing what they know how to do best. They came back again all on their own. Sure all those years of love and attention kept them strong so all my work paid off. It's like raising my children. I did all the work and now they will  take over from here."

"I love your attitude. But tell me what new thing have you discovered? You said you need to focus on new things you can do."

"Well, I can go to the grocery store and make new friends by running into perfect strangers with my cart," she said grinning.

"Or they can fall over you when they aren't paying attention," I added.

"What I've discovered is I can't grow flowers any more, but I can paint them. Since I can't get around as much and they are just sitting there, we are a perfect match. The annuals, the flowers  I won't see in my yard because they need to be re-planted each year, are as much a part of my  memory as the sunsets I watch for."

"Oh, another sunset lover."

"Yes, but the great part about sunsets is, you not only remember how beautiful the sunset was, you remember when and where you saw it."

"And the flowers?"

"When I hang my flower paintings on the wall my home fills with the fresh scent that lingers in my soul from years of loving them up close. Again just like raising kids," she said.

"Just like meeting you, my friend. You added beauty to my day and will brighten the dark corners of my memory just when I need it most," I told her.

The tomato was perfect with dinner.

~ Bob Perks ~

[ by: Bob Perks Copyright © 2007 ( -- {used with permission} ]

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