We sang Happy Birthday to Martha in the dairy aisle
Her cart was blocking the door to the 1% milk I wanted to buy. I stood by her cart for a few minutes waiting for her to notice me. Her nose was pressed against the glass trying to read the labels.
“Excuse me, could you please move your cart.”
She turned to look at me, and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you,” as she pushed her cart away from the door. She had no teeth and her coat hung loosely on her frame. A few grey curls had escaped from her white and blue crocheted hat.
She returned to the glass and stared at the lactose free milk again.
“May I help you with something,” I said.
“What is the difference between all of these. I don’t understand.”
“The red container is whole milk and the blue container is one percent milk.”
“My doctor said I was lactose intolerant. Maybe this will help me feel better.”
She had a half-gallon of 1% lactose free milk in the front basket of her cart. She said, “Tomorrow is my birthday. I will be 95 on Thanksgiving at twelve o’clock. I was born at twelve o’clock.”
As I put two gallons of 1% milk in my cart a man in a blue coat came up to the women with the lactose problem and greeted her. “Do you need a ride home?”
I couldn’t hear what she said, but he replied, “Well, you took the bus here but I will give you a ride home.”
While she was detained in front of the milk, I found a store manager and told him about the woman who would be 95 on Thanksgiving Day. “Excuse me there is a woman here who will be 95 on Thanksgiving Day. Could we ask all the shoppers to sing Happy Birthday to her?”
“Do you know her name? We need her name to sing to her.”
She was still talking to the man in the blue coat. “Excuse me, will you please tell me your name so I can say Happy Birthday to you?
“It’s Martha, but everybody calls me Sis.”
“Happy Birthday Martha!”
The manager announced over the loudspeaker, “Martha will be 95 on Thanksgiving, will all sales associates and any customers who would like to wish Martha a Happy Birthday, please come to the dairy aisle to sing Happy Birthday to Martha.”
A family shopping by the yogurt aisle, several single women in the cheese section and several sales associates in red shirts gathered around Martha in front of the soda display in the dairy aisle and sang Happy Birthday.”
She said, “Oh, thank you. My sister died in January. I am all alone. Thank you.”
An employee in a red shirt hugged her and then more sales associates and more costumers came to sing to her. She was serenaded twice.
Then we all walked away and Martha, Sis, pushed her cart towards the back of the store, alone.
I asked if I could take her picture.
“Oh, I am so ugly today.” But she smiled and let me take her picture. I have one of her smile on my phone. And I took a picture of her as she walked away.
Today is Martha’s birthday. I pray someone knocks on her door and says hello. I pray someone offers to include her at their table. I pray someone will sing Happy Birthday to her today.
It never occurred to me to ask her to join my family for Thanksgiving dinner.
I wonder what she would have said?
Today, as you put your turkey in the oven, and you think of all the things you are thankful for, please pray for those that are alone.
Is there someone you could invite over today? Is there someone you could take a plate of turkey to?
The next time I go shopping for groceries, I will look for Martha, and I will offer her a ride home.
What are you thankful for today? Please tell me in the comments. I would love to talk with you.
About Pamela Hodges
My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.