My mother used to fuss at me, telling me that I needed to spend money on myself more often, saying, “Women just need to do that sometimes!” She never had any money to speak of, but would still give me what she called ‘mad money’ on my birthday and at Christmas. I always found a way to sneak it back to her, and she rarely caught me. The money would come with stern admonitions, “Don’t you argue with me. Don’t go spending this on anybody but you- and I mean it!” This card was attached to the last mad money she gave to me on my birthday, and when I saw the sweet scrawl of her handwriting, it tugged at my heart. TJ Maxx was her favorite place to shop, and- next to the Sonic drive-in- our special place to go together.
I was inspired to take myself to TJ Maxx the next day to look around. Without Mom, I very rarely go browsing/shopping anymore, doing most of my shopping online instead. As I walked around the store, I could see Mom sitting on her walker, looking at the sale shelves filled with odds and ends. I saw the very sweet Korean saleswoman at the jewelry counter who was always so patient and kind to Mom. Jewelry was a passion of Mom’s, and she would tell me to go on and look at clothes while she sat and worked her way around the jewelry counter on her walker. I walked toward the counter, intending to thank the woman for her kindness, but suddenly a huge lump came in my throat. Even almost a year after Mom’s passing, it was too soon to be able to talk to the woman without the tears threatening. I’ve had the same issue with wanting to visit and personally thank Mom’s wonderful geriatric doctor…just too soon.
I picked up several things and put most of them back as I always do. I never could make Mom understand that I truly didn’t need anything- I just enjoyed the fun of being with her, picking things out, and then putting them back when we were done. Sometimes I keep something, sometimes not. This time I kept a little something, and as I left the store, I could have sworn I heard a faint giggle…and I smiled.