There, but for the grace…

She didn’t wander through the mall and its shops as most people tend to do. She  strode towards the supermarket followed by a man who did exactly the opposite.

She waited for him and his walker to catch up, then steamed ahead into the trap of modern supermarkets – the compulsory cruise through the fruit and vege section. There she filled her bag with loose arias, dropped some of the spuds and bent to pick them up.

“Bit harder to do that these days” I joked.

She came up smiling and we agreed old age definitely was not for sissies. “I’m  just not as flexible these days” she said.

“I found yoga helps” I ventured, and immediately wished I hadn’t.

She shook her head. “Too much on my plate – got no time” she said, and indicated   the walker man now gazing at the caulis.

“He’s got cancer and dementia” she said. “Thing is, the dementia is going faster than the cancer” .

Her husband came closer, following his wife with an untroubled expression, and  it was easy to see the ravages of his condition in his hollowed, stooped frame. By comparison her life larder was packed and though she  said she was old,  she  looked in the prime of her life.

She filled her bag, waited again for him to catch up, then bustled through the shoppers,  stopping to keep an eye on him as he followed. She was right:  old age isn’t for sissies – but then neither of them were.

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.