I went to the outlet stores in Smithfield last night with my sister and our girls. Sounds like a simple enough trip, huh? Nothing worthy of writing about.
But it had a major significance for me.
Until my mother's death in February, we spent as much time as we could with my parents whenever Susan and the girls came to visit. We sent the sitters home, and we were the sitters both day and night. We clung to the time we had together, eating meals around their kitchen table, visiting on the porch, sitting in the den giving our parents a bedtime snack. There was no time to go shopping and no one to leave them with if we did. And although we missed our outings together, it was OK. It's how we wanted it.
But last night, we had no responsibility at home. We were free to go shopping.
We chatted all the way to Smithfield, all carefree and all excited.
We stopped at whatever shops we wanted and took our time.Susan and I browsed in a cooking store for well more than a half and hour as the girls made their way in and out of shops looking at T-shirts and earrings. We met up later and admired shorts and tops the girls tried on, offering advice and encouragement to spend money!
We stayed in the last shop until it was time for the employees to lock up and go home, but not before making a few more splurges.
On the ride home we talked about our trip, we refereed a silly play fight in the back seat, and we told stories on each other.
About halfway home, Susan mentioned how nice it would be if Mama was back home, ready to make a batch of popcorn on the stovetop for us. "And Daddy could make chocolate milkshakes," I said. We talked about how Mama would always fret if we didn't get home before dark and how she'd be standing at the door, arms crossed, looking for for our car lights to appear over the hill. "I was getting worried," she'd always say as she opened the door to welcome us in. We'd remind her we'd been gone less than an hour and only to Wal-Mart, less than a mile away, but that didn't matter, we were out after dark!
We all wished we could call call her and tell her we were on our way home, but we couldn't of course.
The mood got light again in the car, and a few fits of laughter and giggles broke out both on I-95 and again in line at Sonic when an uninvited and very large beetle made its way into our car. Actually there was a little screaming with that incident.
Regardless, there was plenty of laughter and plenty of smiles.
It was good to be happy.