"What a pretty little towhead you have." Andrea exclaimed to the harried mother in the frozen food aisle.
"Thanks, I really have to go."
That look of pity was familiar. Andrea often got it while wearing the bandana that covered her bald head. She said a silent prayer for the mother and continued with her shopping.
Exhaustion, Andrea's constant companion, was taking over. Soon she would need assistance with even the most basic of her daily needs. The conversation with her butcher had taken up precious minutes of what she expected to be her last solo trip. His daughter was putting him through the typical teenage anxieties and all he needed was to talk to someone. It was at their first meeting when he had found out, halfway through taking her order, that his wife was pregnant. Over the years he had shared his baby girls' first steps, teething pains, and other milestones. Parenthood had not come easy for him and he had developed high blood pressure and ulcers over the years. Andrea was convinced it was from worrying about his strong-willed daughter. She offered a few words of encouragement and promised to pray for them.
"I should have gotten an electric cart. My pride will kill me before this cancer does." Andrea thought to herself as she made her way to the checkout. There was only one lane open and three other people were ahead of her. Andrea challenged herself to do this unassisted and not ask the manager for help.
"Sorry, but if you knew how to read you would have noticed only the blue bags are on sale! I'll get the manager if you insist, but I've been having this same conversation all day. The red ones are full price." Andrea noticed the checkout girl's mood was getting darker as the line was getting longer.
Finally, she was able to unload her cart onto the belt.
"Paper or plastic?"
Andrea was trying to catch her breath from the exertion.
"Paper or plastic? We're really busy, in case you hadn't noticed. Paper or plastic?" The girl's nametag said Kara.
"Good morning Kara. Plastic would be just fine." Andrea smiled.
"Do you want your milk in a bag?" Kara's tone let Andrea know the answer in advance.
"No thank you." Andrea made it a point to make eye contact this time when she smiled.
"Your total is thirty-two seventy-six, debit or credit?" Kara asked.
"I'll pay cash, I never did like those machines. Here's twenty, thirty, one, two and seventy cents."
"It's seventy-six cents." Kara repeated.
"I'm sorry, I misheard you. Here you go, six cents. It must be hard working alone when the store is busy. " She gave Kara's hand a gentle squeeze as she took her receipt.
Andrea sat down to rest before heading out to the parking lot. A young woman with two children sat next to her. "Are you okay? Why were you so kind to that girl? She should have noticed you're not well."
"Actually, I'm dying. The doctors tell me I only have a few more weeks. I wasted so many days being angry. Angry at God, the cancer that is eating me alive, the doctors, even my husband and children. Then one day I noticed all of the flowers I had received were dying, except for a single potted plant. Its flowers had gone to seed. Was death going to be my final legacy? Would I cut myself off from those around me and leave nothing but hate, as useless as the rotting flowers that surrounded me, or stay grounded in life and bear seeds? With the few weeks I had left I decided to leave every single person I met with a small seed of love and ask God to send others to nurture it. You have two very beautiful children. It must be stressful raising them in today's world. Can I pray for you?"
Towhead - A person with white-blonde hair.
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