– It was a dark and stormy

No. It really was.

It was one of the darkest and stormiest days I’d been drenched in, in a long time. As I looked out the window, I knew it would be a bad hair day. But I don’t think about physical appearance much anymore. Now, I worry about my persona of wisdom, usefulness, and what the cool people call “gratitude.” That is, when I can remember.

After my morning coffee, I walked around the mall, because that’s what we boomers do for exercise sometimes. Attempting to wait out the ferocious rain, I bought a new pocketbook — and a frozen yogurt — and another coffee — it’s important to reward oneself, after all — until I was positively filled with that gratitude thing.

On that dark and stormy whatever, as I continued my “path” (another thing cool people say), I realized I needed a few groceries. I go to the store nearly every day, yet always surprise myself when I realize I need something else. I used to keep a list, but I’d get to the store without it, and then had to try to reconstruct it in my head. That’s why we have six jars of mayonnaise at home, mostly expired. It was always the tuna I forgot. And this was Ramen soup and tuna night.

I stopped at the store, and defying the storm, got half soaked as I raced in. Picked up — ugh, what were we out of? — mayonnaise, I guess — paid, and headed back out into the rain.

I hate it when I remember what I forgot as I’m getting into the car in torrential rain. Tuna. The heck with it — we’d have something else. I was not about to get re-waterlogged for one item.

Did I mention that I’d recently put all those annoying umbrellas that always end up stuck under the car seat neatly lined up in our mud room? And — thank God — I’d finally taken my filthy, winter-dusty car to the car wash — the day before this single biggest rainfall of the century?

Tuna aside, I still felt grateful. Sure, it was raining. Sure, finances stink. Sure, I’m getting older and don’t really know where my Big Path is leading, which probably doesn’t involve tuna, but let’s not get into spiritual debates now. I have a cozy, dry home. The economy will come around. I’m getting older, and that’s OK…

It was then that I saw the couple coming out of the store. One of them was in that motorized wheelchair-cart contraption, basket filled to the rim. I overcame my tuna fixation. Hello, gratitude!

the time I unbuckled and walked to their car, the last bag was being put into their trunk. The fellow in the electric cart had navigated himself easily into the passenger seat.

“Looked like you needed a hand,” I lamely offered. But gesture done, hair completely saturated, legs below my jacket line thoroughly splattered. We’re talking Noah-level rain.

The woman smiled: “No, but thanks — how sweet to offer!”

OK, she didn’t say that. She said, and I quote:

“You could take this chair back into the store for us.”

Huh?

“The chair,” and she pointed to the dripping motorized cart.

Once again — huh?

“How do I um I don’t know how to” I sputtered. Sputtering is what happens when one mutters in fierce rain.

I am not very mechanical. Those decades of breastfeeding I brag about? Well, I don’t think I could’ve figured out the bottle thing.

now, “he” was smiling and waving, and “she” was doing that last maneuver when one swings one’s hips into the driver’s seat, translating to “I’m leaving now — and good luck with the cart!”

OK, she gave quick, parting instructions and thanked me. I had just enough knowledge to finally figure out how to work the thing. I sat on the puddle-laden seat. As traffic zipped by, with each tire splash I faced the challenge.

I did not get run over. I drove that thing back into the store, receiving stares as I expertly parked it and got up. I realized it’s never good to judge people. I thought about that a lot.

I thought about it as I again faced the storm to get to my car.

I thought about how I reached out and offered help, even though inconvenient.

I thought about how lucky I am to be able to walk.

And it wasn’t until I was halfway home that I realized that as I drove that cart back into the store, I could have bought the darned tuna.

Kathy Eliscu is a freelance writer and regular Boomers columnist.