I first became a big fan of Wal-Mart when we got our motorhome, and I was even more enthusiastic after I became a caregiver. We never overnighted on one of their parking lots like many RVers do, but we lunched there quite often. Wal-Mart parking lots are generally easy in and easy out, even for a 40-foot vehicle towing a car, so if we were close to one around noon, we pulled in. After we ate, one or the other of us invariably suggested we run inside to pick up this or that. If we couldn’t find it there, we probably didn’t need it anyway.
After Mom and Dad came to live with us, it became the shopping place of choice because of the convenience. With The Kids in tow, one stop was usually all I could manage and, as I said, if I couldn’t find it at Wally World, I didn’t need it. One side benefit I didn’t consider at the time was the writing material the visits would provide. Here are a few examples.
The first Christmas we were all living together, I asked Mom and Dad if they wanted to do their own Christmas shopping or if they wanted me to do it. After some discussion, they came to a decision.
“We want to you buy for Jim, Jo Lynn, and David, but we’ll shop for you.”
“That works for me.”
“Okay, but you’ll need to give us a list. We don’t know what you want.”
On the appointed day, I made sure they had the short list of simple suggestions I had written, and we set out. We arrived at the store where I got them a basket and pointed them in the right direction.
“I have some shopping of my own to do. When you get finished, wait for me on that bench by the front door. Do you need anything else?”
“No, we’re fine.”
Taking them at their word, I set out with my own list. Less than fifteen minutes later, I glanced toward the front door and saw The Kids sitting on the bench looking a little lost.
“Hi, are you okay?”
“Yeah, we’re just tired.”
“Did you finish your shopping?”
“No, we can’t find the list. Can you buy something for us?”
That was the first but not the last time I bought my own Christmas present.
The longer they lived with me, the less excited they got about trips to Wal-Mart. The conversation when we pulled into the parking lot often went like this.
“Are you going to be very long?”
“No, I just have to pick up a few things.”
“Then we’ll just wait in the car.”
The first time or two this happened, I left the keys in the car in case they wanted to roll the windows up or down or listen to the radio. One afternoon I finished my shopping and was surprised to see them sitting by the door.
“Hi, did you think of something you needed to get?”
“No, we got hot.”
I got them up and headed toward the car, envisioning the windows down and the doors open. Fortunately, the windows were up and the doors were locked. Unfortunately, the keys were still inside. After that, I made sure I always had a spare key in my purse.
After a year or two in Florida, a Super Wal-Mart opened in town. It ultimately became part of Mom and Dad’s exercise program. We’d pull into the parking lot, and the familiar conversation would begin.
“We’ll just wait in the car if you’re not going to be long.”
“I need you to come in with me. I need to take your blood pressure. Dr. Stephans wants me to take it at least once a week.”
They were pretty obedient when doctor’s orders were concerned. It wasn’t a long way from the handicapped parking to the front door, but the pharmacy with its blood pressure machine was in the middle of the store, so it was a pretty good hike. If I had a short list, they waited there until I finished, but if I had a longer list I took them to the Subway in the front of the store. I got them each a cookie and a cup of coffee, and they watched people until I was ready to go. The cookie may not have been what the doctor ordered, but at least they had to walk to get it.
The nearest Wal-Mart is 20 miles from Emory. At first, I insisted on going once a week, but as I’ve become more familiar with the local stores and better at long-range planning, it’s sometimes 2 or 3 weeks between trips. I still like the one-stop convenience, but the trips are not nearly as interesting without Mom and Dad.