A couple of days ago, I was shopping in our local Fabulous Fresh Produce store, stocking up on wonderful mid-summer foods. When I pulled my cart up to the checkout, the shopper ahead of me caught my eye. Trying not to be too obvious about it, I watched her while I placed my fruits and veggies on the belt. She appeared to be close to ninety, and as I covertly studied her face, I was delighted to note that the deepest of her many wrinkles were smile lines.
Despite her age, her hands were steady as she reached into a large bag slung over her shoulder and pulled out her wallet. When she did, I’ll admit to a moment of age bias as I imagined long minutes spent waiting while she sorted bills and counted out change, but I should have spared myself the trouble. Instead, she pulled out a debit card and inserted it into the machine. Now I was really intrigued.
While she was pushing the buttons, slow and deliberate, I pretended to look beyond her and out the front window of the store while admiring her summery dress from the corner of my eye. At five foot ten or so, she was tall — still with a straight back and square shoulders — and the loose style, in hot pink, yellow, and green, fit well.
While my own groceries were being scanned, she placed two small bags in her cart and left the store, walking with firm, slow steps but as straight and tall as one many years younger. I wondered if a family member might be waiting to drive her home or if she had come from the seniors’ condo across the street.
A few minutes later, when I walked out of the store, there she was. She’d just returned her cart to the corral in the parking lot, and as I watched, she took keys from her purse and aimed the fob as she walked toward a small car.
Turning away, I straightened my shoulders, more thankful than ever that my mother had made us stand, with back and shoulders pressed against the kitchen wall, for five minutes each evening after we finished supper. And I promised myself I whould smile as often as possible so that my rapidly increasing wrinkles will be the right kind. Driving home, I resolved to keep my mind open and active and to stay on top of the technology rushing at me with frightening speed.
Although the concept of debit cards would have been science fiction when this woman was young, I observed her using one with apparent ease. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that she quickly checked emails on her phone or texted her great-grandson before pulling out of the parking lot. And I strongly suspect that if she planned to use a new recipe for dinner that evening, she would have found it on the internet and followed the steps from her tablet, propped on the kitchen counter while she cooked.
When I get old, I want to be just like her.