She has long gray hair and a soft way about her, as she stops me in Hannaford late at night. Sean and I had been out with just Benjamin for a Lowes date and it was just Benjamin and I in the store, smelling cilantro and picking out a whole chicken for the weekend.
"Could I ask you a question?" she says, and I smile, stopping my cart. "I'm going to a baby shower tomorrow and would you mind telling me what the most useful gift you received was?"
Coming over to Benjamin, commenting on how sweet and sleepy he is, I try to thing of useful baby things, preferably, I'm guessing, ones that could be bought at Hannaford. I'm coming up with zip. I don't buy baby things at a grocery store and all I can picture in the baby aisle is pacifiers, baby food and diapers. I go for the third.
"Diapers are always useful and helpful," I suggest.
Really, diapers, I think to myself. Is that the best I could come up with? But, hey, even every cloth diapering mama I know finds a pack of disposables on hand to be handy so yes, I stick with diapers.
"I'm so sorry," I apologize, embarrassed at my uninspired gift idea. "He's our seventh and I really should have a better suggestion for you."
The woman pronounced that bit of news wonderful and told me the honored mama-having-the-shower was having her fifteenth. All of a sudden in Hannaford, I love this woman who would go to a shower for a fifteenth child. Love, love, love.
"Do you mind if I bless him," she asks, still cooing over Benjamin and I readily agree. She puts her fingers on his forehead and says a sweet prayer.
Inspiration strikes at her "Amen".
"Oh! I know! Do you know what is really useful to a new mama of many? A meal we can put in the freezer and pull out for whenever."
She loves this idea and caws and cackles over how wonderful it is and why didn't she think of that and I see her mind making mental notes of what ingredients she needs.
"I must tell you," she says leaning in and grinning, "I asked a mom of twelve for a gift idea and without blinking she said, 'Alcohol!'"
I laugh with her.
Later I saw her pulling a cart with Huggies and the makings of a meal.
I think I'll ignore the sad encounters we get and start sharing the happy ones. :)