I used to drive my Papa to do his grocery shopping. It was never because they needed more food--their two upstairs freezers were overflowing and the downstairs one was full until Cory and I moved in. He wanted specific things, always: kefir, pickled herring, low sodium tomato sauce, and whatever happened to be on manager's special that day. When my unofficial little sister, Abby, who considered him her adopted grandfather, began to drive him to do his errands, he even bought sushi that was discounted because it expired that day. We always laughed about his finds and would secretly discard them at times because they were a little too old to eat.
When Papa and I went to Aldi, he would occupy the entire aisle with his wheelchair and the cart. I always found myself apologizing to people as he ran into them or blocked their way--it was never on purpose. He was always on the hunt. And he would always get something for the person who drove him--a diet coke for me, a chocolate bar for Abby, and so on. We once went to Sam's Club, where the motorized scooters are equipped with a loud beeping sound for whenever their driver backs up. When he backed up directly into another customer's cart, which then rolled into her, he didn't notice--by then, he couldn't swivel his head anyway. Thankfully, the woman just smiled and went on her way. After that, I was sure not to let him out of my sight.
And whenever I drove him anywhere--Aldi, Sam's, or Meijer--he would tell me how much more each item he found would cost at Kroger, and how much better the food quality was than Wal-Mart. He was one of those people who would rather drive across town to spend fifty cents less on a gallon of milk than buy it nearby--even when the cost of gas alone would make the trip cost more than he was actually saving.
Papa was set on being supplied against anything. I think it is the result of being a desperately poor child during the Great Depression, living during the Cold War (true story: my Oma was pregnant with my mom and her twin sisters, and in the basement storage area in their Chicago apartment building, he set up a place to deliver the baby--they didn't know there were two yet), and being the sort of person who always has a plan.
Five or six years ago, I decided that our family motto was this: We're Walkers. We come prepared and then go shopping. Also, we tend to keep everything.
Will you let me reminisce over all the silly and wonderful things about my eccentric, slightly crazy, brilliant, and dearly missed grandfather?