Barb, The Bag Lady, Aunt Lucy and Aging Gracefully

Little moments matter.

This morning I read a lovely post by my online running pal, Barb. She talked about her regular interactions with a bagging lady at her local grocery store. Go read the full post here, then come back. I’ll wait.

I love Barb’s post for two reasons.

1. The idea of bagging groceries in the order they’re put away appeals to me. It’s beautifully efficient. Since my life is a blend of hyper-organization offset by complete chaos, I’d like to borrow some of Barb’s grocery shopping efficiency.

Until now, my bagger has felt like she’s doing pretty good if all the refrigerated items go together, the toiletries are separate from the food and the bread doesn’t get squashed. My boys each make between 3-5 sandwiches every day for lunch, so I buy a LOT of bread. I also shop at a store that doesn’t employ baggers, so the bagger is me.

2. More importantly, Barb’s post reminds me how much the little moments of interaction matter and how purposefully looking for the positive is always worthwhile.

It also reminds me of my Great Aunt Lucy and a promise I made myself about aging gracefully. (Someday I’ll write a whole post about meeting Aunt Lucy when I was 12.)

Near the end of her life Aunt Lucy was physically dependent, relying on caregivers to meet every need, from toileting and bathing to eating. And while her mind was sharp, her memory was more colander than steel trap.

“Write down that you were here,” Aunt Lucy said during my mom’s last visit with her.

She pointed at a notebook beside the bed and flashed a smile. “I want to remember you were here and enjoy your visit again.”

While they chatted my mom noticed how Aunt Lucy kept finding the silver lining.

She could have so easily complained. Her body was failing. Her mind was slipping but not so much she didn’t know it.

She could have griped about her aches, pains and loss of independence.

But she didn’t complain. “I receive such good care. They take good care of me here,” she said of the nurses and aides.

She could have bemoaned not getting more visitors or missing important family events she didn’t have the strength to attend. But she didn’t.

“Thank you so much for visiting,” she said, instead.

My mom left feeling blessed.

When I heard this, I hoped that when I grew old I could be like Aunt Lucy. But I also realized there’s only one way to be a positive person in my sunset years. I have to start becoming that person now, through how I handle the little moments like the grocery checkout line.

After grocery shopping Barb could easily have complained about her cranky bag lady. Instead, she looked for something to like (efficient bagging) and chose to be purposefully kind in those few moments she spends at the checkout counter. That’s pretty cool.

I bet the days Barb shops at the store are a little brighter for Joyce, her bagger. They’re probably a little brighter for Barb too.

Because she’s looking for something positive she finds it.

My Aunt Lucy would like Barb. I also bet that Barb will be a lot like my Aunt Lucy when she grows old.




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  • Barb

    I think I would have loved your Aunt Lucy. Thanks for sharing those memories, it warms my heart to think that my small moment inspired you to think of these great moments.

  • Me too, Barb. 🙂