Since MIL was put on oxygen last fall, I’ve been taking her to the grocery once a week. It’s easier for her if there’s someone there to help her. I can load the heavy things into the cart. I do the driving because she gets a little tired at the end of the trip. I also unload the groceries out of the car and take them into the house for her. Yes, I’m a wonderful daughter-in-law, but it’s not a selfless sacrifice on my part. I do my weekly shopping while we’re there, so I’m killing two birds with one stone.
One thing I’ve learned while doing the weekly grocery shopping thing is that running to the grocery store now requires a lot of logistical planning. Do we have enough oxygen? Do we need to take a spare tank? Will I be able to find a handicap parking space? (Yes, we have a handicap parking permit for the Dog Mobile – but I only use it when I’m driving MIL somewhere.) Will there be one of those scooter things available for her to use? How long before MIL’s energy runs out? I never had any little kids of my own, so I imagine that getting MIL ready to go is somewhat similar to getting ready to go out somewhere with a baby. I also have to allow enough time for MIL to move through the store at her own pace and not feel rushed to get her shopping done on a set timeline. Most of the time, the trip to the grocery is her big adventure of the week. Even though she’s able to drive herself places, she’s more comfortable having someone with her when she makes the big trips out and about. "Just in case" she says . . . but she’s never said exactly what "just in case" she’s anticipating.
Even though I’ve been doing this for about 5 months now, I’m still amazed on a weekly basis how it can take three hours to make a simple trip to the grocery store. Yes, that’s right. I said three hours. From the time I leave my house until the time I get back, three hours have passed. I live 10 minutes from MIL’s house (20 mins. round trip). It takes us about a half hour to get out of the house once I get there. Even though she knows I’m coming, it still takes some time to get the portable oxygen tank ready, find the reusable shopping bags, let her little dog out to go potty. Inevitably we forget something and have to go back to get it. Tonight I forgot the spare oxygen tank. The grocery store is about 5 minutes from MIL’s house. Once the shopping is done and we’re back home, it takes about another 10 minutes to unload the car and get her groceries in the house. That leaves a little less than 2 hours for the actual shopping. Two hours in a grocery store. I don’t want to hover over her, so she goes her way and I go mine and I check up on her every few minutes. There have been times when I’ve gotten my shopping all done, paid for, and loaded into the car before she’s even half way done.
I’ve thought about ways to streamline things so that it takes a little less time to get it done, but since MIL looks forward to the shopping trip, I don’t have the heart to say anything to her. Someday the things that annoy me now will be very special memories . . . .
I’ll just have to remember that next Thursday when I’ve circled the store for the zillionth time while she zips along in her scooter . . .