Ernest glanced at his watch as he sat on the couch. Today was Wednesday which meant it was the day where he would go grocery shopping, except the woman that was supposed to take him was running late. It bothered him to no end that he had to rely on someone else to take him to do a simple task like grocery shopping. Still since he no longer owned a license he needed someone to drive him.
To pass the time he turned on the TV his daughter had bought him. She’d showed him how to use it when she’d first brought it but now all he knew how to do was turn it on and off. The news anchor that was speaking on the black box had a serious expression on his pinched face. Earnest could understand why. The only thing that had been on the news lately was the exact thing the man was speaking on. The war.
Not wanting to dwell on something that he’d put in his past, and would only bring up unwanted memories, he turned the TV off again. The reminder of the current conflict sat heavily in Ernest’s chest. After witnessing and caring for the injured he had first hand knowledge of the devastation that war caused. In some ways he wished he could help them once again but at the same time he was glad to no longer be in a conflict zone.
He was brought out of his thoughts by the front door opening and the lady from the DVA entering his home. Karen was a nice enough lady, she took him shopping and also cleaned the house on Fridays. She didn’t speak much which was fine with him but when she did she was polite and kind.
“Morning, Ernest,’’ she said, “ready to go?’’
Karen came over and hovered by him as he used his cane to stand up. This behaviour continued as she helped him out to the car. It was a little annoying to be treated like a walking accident but that was how everybody viewed him lately.
The pattern of hovering repeated itself as Ernest climbed out of the car at the shops. Passing his shopping list to Karen he took control of the trolley as she darted off to get the things on his list. The whole process went quicker this way but at the same time he missed the days when he was able to dart around the shops like Karen.
Ernest smiled to himself as he wandered past the diapers, he remembered being frazzled late at night picking up larger sizes because his daughter had outgrown the ones they had at home. In his opinion children grew up much too fast and that was why he tried to spend as much time with his grandkids as possible and why he spoiled them so much.
That’s also why there were two stuffed animals in the trolley by the time he reached the confectionary aisle. There he picked out a packet of red lollies, the kind his daughter hated to give to her kids but were also the kind they loved. Chuckling Ernest placed the packet into the trolly.
Karen came back with the last of the items on his list as well as several prepackaged meals. Ernest scrunched up his nose at the meals. He’d tried leaving them off the list but Karen always got them knowing the disaster that occurred in the kitchen when he tried to cook. He ate them but he preferred it when his family came over for Sunday dinner and his daughter made the meal. Being taught by his wife had lead to her cooking being a reminder of what the meals he used to eat every night were like.
The trolley was checked to make sure they had everything before Ernest and Karen headed towards the checkout. Karen was quick to put the items on the conveyer belt before pushing the shopping trolley towards the other side where she started to load the cart up again. This time the items sat in grey plastic bags.
He shuffled to the little machine that he used to pay for his groceries, leaning heavily on his cane as he did so. When the girl at the cash resister read out the amount Ernest reached for his wallet. He fumbled with it and was thankful that the girl at the checkout seemed quite patient. She chatted pleasantly with him as he eventually got his card out and paid for the groceries.
“Have a good day!’’ She called.
He nodded and gave her a smile as he turned to Karen. She moved away from the shopping trolley so that he could use it for a support again as they walked back to the car. Karen loaded the shopping in the car after hovering over him as he climbed in.
At home Karen unloaded the car as he sat in the living room reading the latest book his teenage grandson had gotten from the library for him. Having discovered that they both shared a love for mystery the boy would borrow books for his grandfather, often spending time reading with him when he came to visit.
Karen finished up her work and as she waved goodbye she said, “I’ll see you on Friday.’’
The house was quiet once again as he became the only person to occupy it. It would remain like that except for a few times every now and then when he’d get a visit.
Ernest smiled, the peace was nice.