Portrait #1: Lady in the Grocery Store

She was standing behind a temporary counter handing out tasters of Grana Padano. She is a 77 year old British woman. And she has a bucket list.

I strolled into the local grocery store expecting yet another boring old stroll through the aisles that feed the hungry monster that has become human consumption. About 4 feet from the door, I was greeted by a friendly old lady. She had an array of paper cups on a steel platter that each had small pieces of a white crumbly cheese that is one of my favorites. She smiled and, without hesitation, dove into the different ways one could eat the cheese: with bread and apple, baked on coconut bread, in pastas of any sort, on crackers with olives.

But this lady had spark. She couldn’t care less if you wanted the cheese or not, let alone cared about how to prepare it for a meal. She was just so darn happy where she was and anyone could see it from a mile away. What gave away this energy of hers was the subtle hint of calm she had about her enthusiasm. It was almost like a water molecule had burst in the most graceful and calm way possible. What an oxymoron. But it was beautiful.

In the minutes following, she told me she was happy doing what she did. All of her own accord; I hadn’t prompted her with any questions for her life story. Her son had recently died at a very young age of forty something and following his death, she had decided to create a bucket list and live her life to the fullest. In the years since, she had started tai-chi, zumba, had bought a bike, traveled to Australia, was going on a cruise this winter and was planning on a long trip to England where she would visit her cousin in Norfolk and breathe in the fresh air of Guernsey.

This woman was a breathe of fresh air. To her money didn’t matter as much as her life did and she earned money so she could spend it. She wanted to learn Spanish because she found it to be a beautiful language. And suddenly the calm enthusiasm about her made more sense. She had learnt to deal with death. She had accepted it. And she was going to live her life so that when Death knocked on her door, she would be alright.

This lady definitely had a spark. Her fresh face told no lies and her organized counter told me of her meticulousness. Of the story that followed, I was sure she had done her best to check off as much as she could on her bucket list. She wouldn’t leave any stone unturned.

I may not have gotten the tour of the aforementioned monster-feeding aisles, but I did get a tour of a life happily lived. And I left uplifted.

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