The Grocery List

by Robin Turnipseed

The Simple, Yet Significant List

This scrap of paper sits in my Bible. It’s a torn piece from a receipt pad used in the likes of a small restaurant, café or even a library somewhere in north Alabama. It is yellowed, stained, dog-eared, and would probably seem of no value to most who would have easily tossed it out with yesterday’s mail.

However, it is my treasure, one of my pretties as my Mimi would call them. I adore that it is yellowed and torn and often wonder if the watermark came from spilled coffee or sweet tea. In the South, it can be either as we do not play favorites. I remember that this piece came from the small receipt pad that called the corner of my grandmother’s kitchen table home for many years and where I snatched it from one chilly November morning over a decade ago after she passed.

Now let’s talk about the day I took it…

The Day I Took It

The funeral had happened. Respects had all been paid. Just family remained. Responsible for gathering and boxing items around the house, we spent time laughing over silly cards and letters discovered in bottom dresser drawers.

We laughed over old pictures and home movies and spent equal amounts of time weeping over the smallest of things that made us think of Mimi, like clothes left in the washing machine awaiting their turn in the dryer… awaiting her.

We told the tales and comforted one another with equal parts hugs and ice cream. We welcomed any type of salve at this point. At the end of all the boxing and packing, we knew that we would all scatter in different directions and this house would no longer be our home base.

Universally this is how the process goes, right? We gather. We laugh. We cry. We eat. We disperse. And then we truly begin to grieve. We have all walked this path. This time I would walk it with a meaningful scrap of Mimi with me.

Why I Took It

I received a call at some point during that weekend and I had to leave suddenly. In slight panic mode, I grabbed what I felt was appropriate. Not wanting to take anything large that held greater meaning to someone else, this small list fit the bill. I didn’t even take the whole pad of paper it resided on. That just somehow felt wrong like I would be stealing it away from its place.

This is her weekly grocery list, which means that these last three items are what she needed the week before her death:

  • Stamps: because she still believed in the loveliness of hand-written cards or letters
  • Snack bags: because being diabetic always meant you carried hard candies on your person
  • Milk: well, because it is milk. Almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, oat milk. We all need it all day every day.

The Importance of “Just Because”

But let’s revisit the stamps. She had written it down first and in the largest script, which meant that she had something that she needed to send out immediately. She always marked a birthday or holiday with a card and there were many times in college where she had written me letters just because. Do we write letters to our people just because anymore? Do we practice the art of “just because” in any way shape or form at all?

I took a walk on my lunch break today. Not to burn calories or make phone calls, but to walk and look around and breathe fresh air. Why? Just because.

I sat down and listened to quiet music tonight. Why? Just because.

I put my phone away and read a book for fun. Why? Just because.

I paid a stranger a sincere compliment today. Why? Just because.

I let someone go in front of me at the checkout line today. They had double the amount that I did. Why? Just because.

I put the shopping cart back in the return stall instead of leaving it in the empty parking space next to me. Why? Just because.

Or even this one, I had the difficult conversation with someone that I had been avoiding because I knew we would both be better on the other side of said conversation. Why? Just because.

The Takeaway

The list serves as a simple, yet significant reminder to stand lookout for the “just because” moments. The modest moments and the ones that carry a little more weight. They are opportunities to connect with those around us or to simply disconnect from the things that will not hold any impactful real estate in our lives in five years from now. Look for the “just because” opportunities. Why? Just because.

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