Little Old Ladies

Little Old LadiesLittle Old Ladies.

Who used to meet their friends for coffee at Woolworth’s.

Who would wrap their restaurant leftovers in napkins and put them in their purse.

Who used their caring insightfulness to help guide us through our troubles.

Who we named our babies after.

Remember them? I do.

I’ve been struck, lately, by this need for little old ladies in my life. Because, well, I used to have them and now I don’t.

It started when I was selling merchandise at a local festival. This old, wrinkled woman handed me a fresh, crisp twenty dollar bill with her tight, crooked fingers.

“Two buttons please. Keep the change.”

What she donated was not much, really. ‘Only’ ten dollars. But I cannot put a price on the nourishment she fed my soul.

Yesterday I took my son to get his hair cut at this little local place in my little local town.

You know the place. Where they take walk-ins. Where they  know most of the walk-in customers, but it doesn’t matter if they don’t. They still ‘know’ you and find a way to strike up conversation with you as if they have known you your whole life. The owner is the Northern version of Dolly Parton’s character in Steel Magnolias. Sweet, loving, careful, and you betcha she knows all the going’s on in this town, and is not afraid to tell you all about it. Or keep your deepest, darkest secret.

When we aren’t chatting about the new Mexican restaurant that has been trying to open for the last nine months, I overhear the owner telling another customer about the loss of her grandmother this past Winter.

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“Oh, thanks honey, it’s okay, I really expected it. I’m just glad that she got to know my kids. It’s so rare that kids get to know their great-grandparents.”

My heart stops. Cracks. And shatters all over her linoleum.

Those are almost the same words that came out of my mouth four and a half years ago, after two days of Thanksgiving dinners with my family and my husband’s, where we basked in the glory of our 18-month old son getting to know not one but three great-grandmothers.’

And then they died.

My grandmother, just days after Thanksgiving, and with no warning, died after suffering a catastrophic stroke.

My husbands grandmother had a stroke on the day we buried my grandmother, finally giving in to rest two weeks later, on December 23rd.

We jinxed it.

And now I’m longing for a little old lady.

So after this heart-stopping moment at the hair dresser, I go to the local grocery store to pick up some bread for some quick, yet soul-satisfying grilled cheese sandwiches. You know, the Heidelberg bread? That  bread my grandmother LOVED and could eat by the loaf? I bought that.

And then I went outside. I noticed a well-dressed dude sitting in his brand new, running car, doing something on his phone. Not unusual. And then I turned after putting my baby in the car, to see a little old lady.

And a young grocery boy asking her which car was her’s and where to put the bags. She pointed him in the right direction, and he, with a shocked and confused look on his face, pointed to the car with the dude on the phone in it, and said, “This car?”

I shared his confusion.

Because not only did the dude in the car not notice his grandmother coming out of the store, he also didn’t notice the grocery boy opening the back driver side door and putting in the groceries. Or he didn’t care.

Most importantly, he didn’t notice his little old lady struggling to get the car door open so she could get in.

What the fuck.

My heart broke, and I started crying. I said, in the shelter of my car, “What are you doing, dude? Help your grandmother! There are so many of us that would give ANYTHING to be able to help our grandmothers’ grocery shop, and you are on your PHONE!”

There was an audible gasp from the back seat as my son realized what was going on. A quiet, “oh mom” from my two year old when she realizes I’m crying.

And then silence. The only silence I’ve had all day.

I pull out of my parking space, crying, as I head home.

Wishing I had a Little Old Lady.

About Laine

Elaine GriffinElaine Griffin (a.k.a. Laine) is a freelance WordPress designer, content creator, and speaker. She brings her background as a sociologist, advocate, and educator, to her work and her writing, which has been featured on BlogHer and The SITS Girls. On The Laine List she spills her guts about life, motherhood, and balancing work and family. She also sprinkles in some fun recipe and cocktail posts. On Elaine Griffin Designs, she writes easy to follow tutorials about WordPress, social media, SEO, and blogging.
Working from her home office in Finger Lakes Region of NY, Elaine, a wine lover, also enjoys the beauty of living in wine country!

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  1. says

    Gah you have no idea how close to home this post hits! I was raised by a group of little old ladies and grouchy old men, sitting in the back of McDonald’s sipping on their coffee and arguing about horse races. I miss it terribly! I had my great grandma up until I was in eigth grade, my great aunt until I was in highschool and my grandma until I was in my twenties. And ever since I lost them all, there’s allways some hole, that feels it can’t be filled without them, and I’m constantly trying to hold onto the things they used to do, hobbies and traditions. I love and dearly miss my little old ladies. (allthough I do have a little old checker at Walmart that helps fill the need a wee bit, those walmarts have everything now days!)

    • Laine says

      Oh, yes, I absolutely cling to the the hobbies and traditions. Traditions especially. I find it very hard to let go. I lost my great-grandmother when I was in eighth grade too, and sometimes I wonder what life would be like if she were here. And then I remember she likely wouldn’t be. :(

  2. Jenn Adams says

    Well done! I sure hope someone steps into your life to fill the void. I am a member of a women’s group called PEO and there are some really nice little old ladies there that make me feel warm and fuzzy. I rarely have (or make the) time to go to the meetings but when I do it fills up my cup. I bet if you got involved in Kiwanis or something like that you could meet some nice ladies. Good luck! Some day we will be those old ladies…

    • Laine says

      That’s a good idea, Jenn, I never thought about that! And so true, that we will be the little old ladies someday. It’s weird to think about.

    • Laine says

      I’m sorry I made you cry, Melanie! I’m glad you liked the post, though. I always find it heartbreaking when our older folks are ignored. This happened to my husband’s great-grandmother. Before she went to the nursing home they would just kind of push her over to the side. That’s how I got to know her so well, because we would sit to the side together and chat. I was devastated when she passed on. So then we named our daughter after her!

  3. says

    When my son was 2 and my daughter 4 months, my Dad’s Mom died. It was Thanksgiving weekend and my sister and I hadn’t been able to stop by, but had thought we would see her the next weekend. This decision is one I will carry in my heart for the rest of my life….I make time to visit my Mom’s parents because I never want to have that horrible missed visit feeling again. There is nothing like still having the chance to sit down at Grandma’s table, eat one of her chocolate chip cookies, and for her and I, talk about dogs. And now today, that is exactly what I want to do!

    • Laine says

      Oh my gosh, Michelle, I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing that story. I’m so glad you still get the chance to sit around the table and chat. There just isn’t anything like Grandma’s table, is there?

  4. says

    I never knew any of my grandparents. The closest I came to a grandparent was my great-aunt Lue who never had children of her own but knew how to spoil her countless grand-nieces and nephews rotten. She died when I was 12. I still talk to her sometimes. I wish I had a little old lady in my life now too.

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