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July 1, 2007
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I love my mother dearly.  She is seventy-seven years old, and one of the sweetest Mom’s anyone has could ever know.  She is sharp as a tack … fairly sociable … and independent.  She lives roughly fifteen miles away from me in a condo in a Southern California city that is overall fairly blue-collar and unfortunately has a reputation for crime and gangs.   She enjoys living there – says she loves her neighbors and neighborhood.   I see her every week – we either have dinner at her place, or we go out to eat.  We also attend family get-togethers of my girlfriend … as my girlfriend has a large extended family that lives in the area (so there are parties to go to every third week or so).

Now several years ago, I learned never to sit in the passenger seat of the car when Mom is driving.  She drives too slow – and even though she drives fine … the fact that the car moves slower than the average flow of traffic (especially on the freeway) scares the living hell out of me.  I don’t tell her that I won’t drive with her – I just always drive.  Plus I think she prefers me to drive – as I know that freeway driving, in particular, stresses her.

Okay – so Mom just returned from visiting relatives in the deep South the other night.  I told her that I would pick her up from the airport, and take her home.  The airport does not allow cars to wait curbside anymore – not with all the post-9/11 security in place … so the plan was for me to wait near the airport in a parking lot … and after she arrived and retrieved her one bag, that she would turn on her cell phone and call me.   This would be my signal to drive up and get her curbside.   This part of the plan worked superbly – no problems whatsoever!

On the way home, Mom asks me if we can stop by the grocery store to pick up some milk.   [She’s been gone for a week, and whatever milk she had is probably bad, I suppose.]  No worries – we’ll stop by a Ralph’s a few miles from where she lives.   It is a Monday night – around 8:30 p.m.

I don’t remember that last time I actually went grocery shopping WITH Mom - it has got to be more than ten years ago.   I did do her grocery shopping for her last year (when she was recovering from a short bout of arthritis).   That was interesting because I remember that she gave me a grocery list with around 15 items on it … and I did not really look at the list until I was actually at the grocery store.  One of the items on that list was a “one gallon bottle of Chablis” … and since I never buy wine myself, it did not occur to me how large a “one gallon bottle of Chablis” actually was, until I located it and put in the shopping cart.  “DAMN – that is one big fucking bottle of wine”, I thought.   And the grocery checker was looking at me funny when I went through the checkout line with that big ass jug of wine … maybe because it was around 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday?  Of course, at the time my first question to Mom when I arrived with the BIG ASS JUG OF WINE was “how much wine do you drink?” … and she said that would last her a month, so it didn’t seem like something to be concerned with.

Back to Monday night – Mom and I arrive at the grocery store a few miles from her home.  I have to say that this store was in a rough part of town.  And it was crowded in that store for a Monday night.  A crowded store in the “rough part of town” means there are rough-looking people in the store.   We went in for milk … but soon Mom was finding some pretty good bargains.  [She shops at around five different markets, typically – and I know she is a price-shopper.]   We picked up all kinds of stuff that was “on sale” – which took some time, but I was fine with it. Continued on next page >>>

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