Middle Aisle

Everyone around is frantic. They pull just about everything from the racks, and they never put the clothes back the way they found them. These teenage kids rove at either the skimpiest or the funniest dresses. Men pull shirts from all sides of the display rack. And don’t even get me started on the women! That line at the cashier spell dollars and thousands of it being burned in a whirl. From here, I can’t see what the messages are on those tees. Too bad ’cause most people who looked at them smiled or laughed a little. This whole store’s in chaos, and I feel like standing up from my chair to join in on the fun. On the other hand, I feel exasperated. What is taking my family so long in choosing some unneeded garments? And I’ve been stuck in this middle aisle between men’s and women’s clothes. No one dared to push my chair to knock me out of the narrow way but I knew based on their glances that they want me out of this spot. But where do I go? And what’s the point in moving? The entire shop’s cramped, anyway. Right at this moment, I felt like a man like me has no business being in a sale anymore. It’s just that it would seem harsh for my daughter and her husband, and my still mobile wife, to leave me behind in some alley in this mall. They’d feel guilty if they did that. And I know that I might be crushed by that, too, even if it’s the soundest thing to do. What’s the use for an old paralyzed man in this scenario? Do I say, “Hun, that white lace camisole fits you well but it might cause colds if you wear it out”. Or do I say, sweetie that neon green top choice of yours is unique and can surely improve traffic”. Perhaps I’ve lost the ability to endure things that irritate. Or perhaps it’s just that age when nothing seems pleasing anymore. Did my years blow away my compassion? No. No, I refuse to believe so. I still feel very loving. Like now, seeing my daughter with her husband. I feel like I’ve been blessed with the most wonderful gift and that gift is my daughter who is now married and knows how to truly love. I look at my wife, with her wrinkles and the funny way that she limps and walks and still see the same twinkle in her dimmer, grayer eyes.   I also still feel excitement in being out here with the world. Hearing stories from unfamiliar men, being with the only ones who matter in my lifetime, having a change of air. This shopping day is getting to me. While I’m stuck in this wheel chair, and while my mouth can no longer utter the words that my heart truly feels, I feel alive.  I feel like I’m still a part of how the world goes. That my nod of approval or the slightest grin from my mouth are needed for my wife and daughter to continue smiling and grinning and living just the same. I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore. I just know that here, in this middle aisle, I must stay for a few more minutes or half an hour in order for my family to go on. Or vice versa. All that matters is we’re together, shopping like normal people do.

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