Nowaday, we never know which day of the week we will be going into town to do the grocery shopping. The Grands, being 'old school' type of people, like to know what day and what time and with whom - in advance. They like plenty of notice. It's in their make-up. We do our best to understand and accommodate this, and they do their best to understand our (somewhat spontaneous AND flexible) lifestyle, too.
We usually park the car on the top floor of the mall parking lot. It's easy (and quick) access to the food hall. Oh, and the toilets. Entering through the automatic doors I realised that I was walking between my mam and dad. Mam bustling in front and dad ambling behind.
What to do? Chase mam to slow her down, or wait for dad, who was about to evaporate in the sea of faces.
At lunch, dad hauled out his supply of silverside-on-wholemeal buttered rolls and began chomping at them, while the rest of us left him to keep the table as we sought our own lunches from the vast array of food vendors. "You like bringing your own, don't you?" I asked. "Yeah. It's better than choosing chips every time. Besides, I'm not paying those exorbitant prices they're asking for a sandwich".
Mam shook her head and bit into a six inch roast chicken and mayo roll from Subway.
It was agreed that we would meet outside the supermarket with our loaded trolleys three hours later.
"Where's your dad, Helen?"
"He was just behind me at the checkout"
"He's not there now. Are you sure it was him?"
"Yeah, it was him, Ma. I told him I was going to the butchery"
"Well I don't know where he is now. Probably vanished into thin air. I can't understand why I didn't bump into him while I was shopping"
"Maybe he's gone to the toilet"
"I don't know what to think"
"Mam, I'll go and see if he's upstairs in the food hall"
"Ok, I'll look after the trolleys"
Seated at the table right in line with the escalator, sipping on a long-black-with-(cold)-milk-on-the-side was dad. He saw me walking towards him and his soft brown eyes began to smile at me, long before his mouth followed suit.
"I looked all over for you"
"And we've been looking for you, too"
"I came out of Coles and there was nobody to be found. I even went to the car, thinking that you might be waiting there for me".
"No, we were waiting on a bench, just outside of the store entrance - just like we agreed"
"Well I didn't see any bench"
"I'll go and fetch mam. I'm sure she could do with a cup of tea".
"Ok, I'll wait here..."
Mam and I travelled caterpillar-style up the escalator. "I hope you told him off, Helen. I certainly will".
I had no doubt about that....