My stomach tightened when I heard mom cry. I went upstairs to ask her if we could have more Go-Gurt but the bedroom door was closed. I heard her sniffling and talking quietly, but quickly. She was on the phone with dad, I just knew it. She was telling him about the grocery store lady.
I’d never been so mad at anyone in my life.
Janna was in the cart smiling away, kicking her feet to see if mom would catch her shoe as we tried to find spaghetti. I was ahead of the cart, wondering if mom would let me get the High School Musical concert DVD. Just when I started to speak up, a lady who looked old enough to be grandma’s grandma reached out and grabbed my mom’s wrist. The cart halted. Mom gasped. Janna kept smiling.
“How old is your daughter?”
Being ten years older than Janna, I knew this chat in aisle eight was going to go one of two ways: really friendly, or really not. Mom had been down the aisle of strangers asking questions about my sister many times.
“Does she have a doctor?”
Mom tried to shake her wrist free. Mom’s eyes narrowed and she pasted on a tight smile that usually comes out in grocery stores when Janna and I are in trouble.
“Thank you for asking but we have a team of doctors working….”
“I’m a nurse and if you don’t do something with THIS CHILD before she’s ten, she will have diabetes!”
I glanced at Janna who was still smiling, even at this mean wrinkly woman. I looked to mom, who was shaking. The lady would not let go of mom’s wrist. The so called nurse was pointing a very bony finger at mom with her other hand. Mom replied,
“Again thank you for your concern but God is in control of our daughter. We have a team of doctors working with her and…”
“Children should never be this fat. What you’re doing is criminal. I’ve seen it time and time again….”
This woman’s voice grew louder, and I saw people in the aisle looking at us. Janna squealed and said hi to the lady. My mom took her free hand and put it on her hip. I got as close to her hip as I could and made the same gesture.
“M’am, you don't have the entire puzzle before you, and you’re only looking at a small piece. I’m telling you she has medical supervision and lots of it. We’re working on all the situations before us. God is in control and our daughter is an overcomer. Thank you.”
Mom’s thanksgiving was meant as a dismissal but this bat wasn’t giving up.
“But you don’t know what you’re doing to her. As a nurse I’m trying to tell you that you have no idea…”
Mom’s eyes became slits. Her cheeks were red, wow were they red. With one quick jerk she flung her wrist free and started talking with authority where I knew it wasn’t mom talking, it was most likely Jesus.
“What you have no idea about, m’am, is my God. My God heals and this is His promise for my daughter. As I said, we have doctors. We are working on it. Thank you and good day.”
Mom pushed that cart forward like we were qualifying for NASCAR. Janna laughed out loud and I kept the pace. I turned around to see the woman watching us, just shaking her head as if we were the dumbest family on Earth. Yet when mom passed a man turning from the rows of ziti, he gave mom a thumbs up. I saw tears spill out of the corner of her eye.
She didn’t say a word in the store or driving home. After she made our lunch she slipped away. That’s when I walked outside mom and dad’s room and heard her sniffles. Facing that lady had to be so hard for her, especially when strangers often stopped mom to ask insensitive questions about Janna. Only we knew the diagnosis, therapies, specialists and theories about Janna’s weight and obstacles related to her chronic health issues plaguing her since birth.
I traced my finger up against the door, wishing I could say the perfect thing to help mom feel better. I had no idea. But I had plenty of ideas to share with the lady in aisle eight.
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